President Donald Trump said Saturday that he canceled peace talks with the Taliban leadership after the group claimed responsibility for a recent attack in Kabul in which a U.S. soldier and 11 other people were killed.
The President noted that a secret meeting with the “major leaders” of Afghanistan’s Taliban was planned for Sunday at a presidential compound in Camp David, Maryland. He also said that a meeting with the president of Afghanistan was also in the making.
But the talks were abruptly called off when the Taliban said it was behind the deadly attack.
The meeting with the insurgent group’s leaders taking place on American soil would have represented an unprecedented move as well as a major development in the country’s longest-running war, CNN writes.
“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,” President Trump said in a tweet.
“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 added on Twitter.
The attacks were carried out last week in the northern Afghan cities of Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri along with two suicide bombings in Kabul, one of which killed U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz.
So far this year, 16 U.S. troops have been killed in the country, marking a significant increase in assaults by Taliban insurgents there. The attacks have been “particularly unhelpful” to peace talks, said an American military commander who is tasked with overseeing U.S. troops in the region.
The U.S. and Taliban reached a draft peace deal earlier in the week that could result in a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but the recent attacks by the insurgent group have put the deal in question. In exchange, the Taliban was to guarantee that the country would not be used as a base to attack the U.S. and its allies.
“If we can’t get that going in, then it is difficult to see the parties are going to be able to carry out the terms of the agreement, whatever they might or might not be,” McKenzie said.