President Donald Trump said Saturday that Taliban leaders were to travel to the US for secret peace talks this weekend but that the meeting has been cancelled and he's called off peace talks with the militant group entirely.
Trump tweeted that he scrapped the meeting after the Taliban took credit for an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.
Inviting Taliban leaders onto American soil is an unprecedented move and a significant development in America's longest running war just days from the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
U.S President Donald Trump arrives to attend a lunch on "digital transformation", during the G7 summit in Biarritz, southwestern France, Monday Aug.26 2019.
It comes after Trump said as recently as late last month that he is planning to withdraw thousands of US forces from Afghanistan but will keep 8,600 troops in the country at least for the time being.
It's not clear if Trump's Saturday night announcement will impact that plan.
"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," Trump tweeted Saturday night.
Trump claimed that before traveling to the US on Saturday evening, "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 cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations," Trump added.
CNN military analyst John Kirby, a retired Navy rear admiral and former State Department and Pentagon spokesman, called the news "stunning," saying this would give the Taliban "a boost of political legitimacy that they don't deserve at this stage in negotiations and would be a huge propaganda victory for them, not to mention a slap at the Afghan government and President Ghani".
The President slammed the leaders for thinking that the attacks would improve their negotiating position.
"What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?" he tweeted.
"They didn't, they ... only made it worse!"The State Department referred CNN to the White House for comment. The US National Security Council did not respond to request for comment.
The insurgent group has not halted its campaign of violence as the peace talks with the US have taken place but Thursday's killing of an American when a deal was reportedly close appears to have prompted the dramatic move from the President.
The Pentagon announced Friday that Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz was killed in Afghanistan. Barreto, a 34-year-old paratrooper from Morovis, Puerto Rico, died when a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint near NATO headquarters and the US embassy in Kabul.
Barreto is the 16th US service member to be killed in Afghanistan in 2019, and three other American service members have been killed in recent weeks.
The Afghan government did not push for the cancellation of the meeting at Camp David after the Taliban attack this week, it was a decision by the White House and the State Department, according to a source familiar with the planning.
Despite Trump saying in his tweet Saturday that peace negotiations are called off, new dates are being discussed by the White House for a potential meeting with the Taliban and the Afghan government, the source says.
It's unclear if the Taliban will have to make hard and fast commitments before the meeting or if Trump is using the cancellation and rescheduling simply as a negotiating tactic.
The US troop withdrawals could mark the beginning of the conflict triggered by 9/11 that has cost billions in taxpayer dollars and claimed more than 2,300 American lives.
In his tweets, Trump cast doubt on the leaders' bargaining abilities in light of the killings."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," he added.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.