Trump Says He Canceled Secret Afghan Peace Talks 

John Walker of VOA’s Afghanistan service contributed to this report. WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Donald Trump says he has called off secret talks that were to be held Sunday at Camp David with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and “major Taliban leaders.” 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. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – Members of the Taliban delegation are seen at the Sheraton Doha, before the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue, in Doha, Qatar, July 7, 2019.Trump’s tweet was completely unexpected in light of negotiations that had been continuing in Doha only hours earlier between U.S. officials and the Taliban — talks that the militant group characterized as very positive, according to David Sedney, executive chairman and acting president of the American University of Afghanistan.“There’s a big, big disconnect” among U.S. officials, Sedney told VOA.“The people I talk to see the Taliban’s recent wave of attacks as a clear signal from the Taliban that the Taliban seek military victory and in that context many Afghans see a U.S. withdrawal agreement as enabling military victory because if this was a step towards peace, then the Taliban would agree to an immediate ceasefire,” he added.And Sedney expresses skepticism that the Taliban would have gone to Camp David unless they were essentially accepting an American surrender. “I hope the Taliban have an immediate cease-fire — that’s what the people of Afghanistan want and deserve … but I don’t think it’s likely.”NATO-led Resolute Support forces inspect the site of a car bomb in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 5, 2019.A peace deal, which would be expected to see the withdrawal of 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, could end the longest war in U.S. history.It is estimated 150,000 people — including 40,000 civilians — have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban from power in Kabul for providing refuge to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, who were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.Fighters for the Taliban launched fresh attacks on Kabul and two other cities over the past week. The group now controls more territory in Afghanistan than at any other time since 2001.U.S. officials contacted by VOA following the president’s tweet declined to comment.U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, left, meets with Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2019.The American diplomat leading the effort to reach an accord, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Aug. 31, “We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace, and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies or any other country.”A draft agreement between the American and Taliban negotiators was reached days ago, but a full peace pact hinges on subsequent intra-Afghan talks.It was known before Trump’s tweets that Ghani had scheduled and abruptly postponed a trip Saturday to the United States.Analysts in Kabul had told VOA that it was a signal that the government there was not happy with the U.S.-Taliban peace deal and that there were differences in finding common ground on the process between Kabul and Washington.


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