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Trump calls off ‘peace negotiations’ with Taliban over Kabul attack

September 8, 2019
Trump calls off ‘peace negotiations’ with Taliban over Kabul attack

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump has cancelled ‘peace negotiations’ with the Taliban after the group said they were behind an attack in Kabul that killed a US soldier and 11 other people.

Trump made the announcement in a series of tweets on Sunday, saying he has “called off peace negotiations” with Afghan and Taliban leaders.  The “secret” meeting was scheduled for Sunday at Camp David in Maryland.

The talks  had appeared to be on the brink of a landmark deal to bring an end to 18 years of war.

Kabul has been gripped by a surge in deadly violence even after the US and the insurgents reached an agreement “in principle” that would see the US pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for various Taliban security promises. Any deal would have needed final approval from Trump, who has said that he wants to end American involvement in Afghanistan, launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to parts of the deal made public, the Pentagon would have pulled about 5,000 of its roughly 13,000 or so troops from five bases across Afghanistan by early next year.

The announcement by tweet appears abruptly to end, at least for now, a painstaking diplomatic process led for nearly a year by Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born veteran US diplomat who held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, usually in Qatar.

Afghanistan’s internationally recognized president, Ashraf Ghani, had been outspoken in his criticism of the emerging shape of the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, who have refused to negotiate with his government. Selling the plan in Kabul, Khalilzad said that he had reached an agreement “in principle” with the Taliban — who ruled much of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 during which they imposed a draconian version of Islam.

According to parts of the draft deal that had been made public, the Pentagon would pull about 5,000 of the roughly 13,000 US troops from five bases across Afghanistan by early next year. The insurgents in turn would renounce Al-Qaeda, promise to fight the Islamic State group and stop jihadists using Afghanistan as a safe haven — the primary reason for the 2001 invasion.

US public opinion has soured on nearly two decades of war and Trump, after initially being persuaded to reinforce US troops, has said that the United States should not pursue “endless” war.

With additional input from AFP. Follow SAMAA English on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

 
 
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