The US President, Donald Trump, in a string of tweets revealed that he had been set to hold peace talks with the Taliban yesterday. It was the first the public had heard of the talks, where Trump was to meet with militant leaders at a secret summit. It is thought that the talks would have marked an end to the 18-year conflict between the US and Taliban.
At his Camp David retreat in Maryland, Trump would have came face to face with the Taliban leadership whose fighters have killed thousands of Us troops since 2001.
Separate to the secret summit, Mr Trump was also set to meet with President Ghani of Afghanistan in an attempt to clinch a landmark peace deal.
The reason for the cancellation, Trump explained, was because the Taliban had claimed responsibility for a car bombing in Kabul on Thursday that killed two people – including one US soldier.
He said: “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.
Trump axed talks with the Taliban
The Taliban’s Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
“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?”
The Times reports that the Taliban had already rejected Mr Trump’s invitation, dismissing US demands for a nationwide ceasefire in order to allow the talks to go ahead.
The insurgents vowed to fight on in the face of the months of peace talks coming to a swift end.
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The Times said the Taliban had rejected talks
One senior Taliban source told The Times: “We were invited to Camp David but refused to go.
“The US wanted us to announce a nationwide ceasefire, but again we refused. – it is not possible for us.
“We will fight. We have fought for 18 years and we will fight for a hundred years. We will continue our ‘jihad’. They will have to pay a price.”
Mr Trump’s characteristic Twitter announcement reveals that he was ready to take an extraordinary political and diplomatic gamble, in that he was to sit down with Taliban leaders without any prior concessions.
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Insurgents vowed to fight on
Trump claimed he axed the talks first
Similar to his meetings with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, the president was prepared to meet with a sworn enemy of the US.
Further, the talks were due to take place two days before the anniversary of 9/11 attacks, in which Taliban-controlled Afghanistan ordered four devastating attacks on the US by Al-Qaeda – resulting in the US invasion in 2001.
According to The Times, the Taliban claimed that Mr Trump had extended his invitation to Camp David last month, “but we wanted it delayed till the final agreement”.
The group said that the talks had been “fruitful”, and that talks with Afghan officials were set to begin on September 23.
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The militants had previously refused to meet Mr Ghani’s government, dismissing it as an American puppet.
Last week, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy who has led the American delegation in months of talks with Taliban leaders in Qatar, announced that an agreement had been reached “in principle” with the insurgents.
The US was ready to withdraw some 5,000 troops from five Afghan bases in the next few weeks, which would ultimately have paved the way for a ceasefire and direct talks between the insurgents and Mr Ghani’s administration.
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Around 9,000 Us soldiers were expected to remain until both sides had fully agreed the terms of the peace deal, and the Taliban had honours its commitments.
Doubts around the deal emerged last week, however, when President Ghani cancelled a trip to Washington on Friday.
The move came before Mr Trump’s Twitter announcement, where Mr Ghani declared the negotiations with the Taliban were “meaningless” after another string of deadly attacks.
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