Donald Trump calls off 'secret' meet with Ashraf Ghani

Updated: Sep 09, 2019, 08:12 IST | Agencies

Move comes after Taliban claims responsibility for a deadly attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 others

Donald Trump calls off 'secret' meet with Ashraf Ghani
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has cancelled a "secret" summit with Taliban leaders and his Afghan counterpart after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 others, dealing a body blow to protracted negotiations that were nearing a peace deal to end America's longest war.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Trump disclosed that he was to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and senior Taliban leaders on Sunday at his Camp David retreat. But he cancelled the meeting after the Taliban admitted it was behind a suicide car bomb attack on Thursday that had killed an American soldier and 11 others in the capital of Kabul.

"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. They were coming to the United States tonight," Trump tweeted.

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani

"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 said.

"What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn't, they only made it worse!" he said. Trump's move comes after nine rounds of talks between the US and Taliban representatives, held in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar. Trump's US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad had announced a peace deal "in principle" with the Taliban on Monday.

As part of the proposed deal, the US would withdraw 5,400 troops from Afghanistan within 20 weeks. However Khalilzad said final approval still rested with Trump. The US currently has about 14,000 troops in the country.

"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," Trump said.

"How many more decades are they willing to fight?" questioned Trump. Inviting Taliban leaders onto American soil was 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, CNN said.

5,400
No. of troops the US was to withdraw as part of the deal

14,000
No. of troops the US has in Afghanistan

Afghanistan praises efforts of allies

Afghanistan praised the "sincere efforts of its allies" after US President Donald Trump said he had called off negotiations with the Taliban, apparently ending a year-long diplomatic push to exit America's longest war. "The Afghan government appreciates the sincere efforts of its allies and is committed to working together with the US and other allies to bring a lasting peace," said a statement from Ghani's office. The statement came after Trump tweeted that he had planned unprecedented, albeit separate, talks with the Taliban and with Ghani.

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