WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump announced on Saturday the cancellation of a “secret” meeting with the Taliban and Afghanistan’s leader planned for this weekend at Camp David, and called off peace talks.
The cancellation comes after a Taliban suicide attack on Thursday in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed at least 12 people, including an American soldier.
“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday,” the president said on Twitter, referring to the presidential country retreat in Maryland, just outside of Washington.
Trump added that “unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”
“If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight?” he asked.
The unexpected announcement comes not long after Washington and the Taliban reached a draft agreement in principle after more than a year of negotiations, which provides for the withdrawal of 5,000 US troops 135 days after signing.
The Taliban has insisted that the troop withdrawal is a fundamental issue in reaching an agreement during the nine rounds of talks held in Doha so far.
The Taliban has refused to meet with the Afghan government until a pact with Washington is formalized.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest-running conflict in which the US has been immersed. US troops have been in the country for 18 years, and 2,300 Americans have lost their lives in the conflict.