Trump Withdraws From Peace Talks With Afghanistan, Eyes Ending 18-Year War

In a series of tweets on Saturday evening, President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing the United States from ongoing peace negotiations between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban, effectively ending America’s involvement in the war.

The war in Afghanistan has continued for 18 years, the longest ever war in America’s history. More than 2,400 Americans have been killed in the war.

Trump’s announcement was in response to the Taliban taking credit for an attack in Kabul which killed 12 people, including one American.

“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 said in the tweets.

“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. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?” he continued.

“They didn’t, they only made it worse! 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 president added.

Politico reports: “The announcement astonished much of Washington and raised questions about the future of the U.S. in Afghanistan if the peace talks do not get back on track. But the fact that a Camp David session was in the works at all underscored Trump’s belief that he’s a master one-on-one negotiator and can strike great deals with even the toughest of U.S. enemies.”


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The Taliban have long scoffed at the idea of a cease-fire and they have been behind many recent attacks in Afghanistan. Separately, there were earlier reports that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was postponing his plans to visit the U.S. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty cited an unnamed Afghan cabinet minister saying the U.S. delayed Ghani’s visit because he was unhappy with a draft peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban.

Plans for the secret talks were held very tightly inside the Trump administration, and officials reached Saturday night would not say who would have attended.

Attendees would likely have included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy for Afghan reconciliation. It’s not clear if John Bolton, Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, would have attended given a recent report that he’s been largely sidelined on the issue.

USA Today reports two NATO service members, including an American, were among the 12 people killed in the Kabul attack that Trump referenced.

CNBC adds:

Taliban fighters, who now control more territory than at any time since 2001, launched fresh assaults on the northern cities of Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri over the past week and carried out two major suicide bombings in the capital Kabul.

One of the blasts, a suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday, took the life of U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Puerto Rico, bringing the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 16.

A spike in attacks by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan has been “particularly unhelpful” to peace efforts there, a senior U.S. military commander said on Saturday as he visited neighboring Pakistan, where many Taliban militants are based.