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 canceled 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.
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.”