Trump: US-sponsored peace talks with Taliban are dead
President Donald Trump responds to questions from the news media prior to boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Sep.9, 2019. EFE-EPA/SHAWN THEW ALTERNATIVE CROP
A handout photo made available by the US Army shows an advisor from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade flying during their deployment to Afghanistan, Apr.12, 2019 (issued Sep.10, 2019). EFE-EPA/SGT.JORDAN TRENT/US ARMY HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
A handout photo made available by the US Army shows members of the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade advising local Afghan Armed Forces member during their deployment, at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, Apr.10, 2019 (issued Sep.10, 2019). EFE-EPA/SGT. JORDAN TRENT/US ARMY HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
A handout photo made available by the US Army shows an advisor from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade standing at a fortification of a base during deployment at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, June 13, 2019 (issued Sep.10, 2019). EFE-EPA/MAJ. JONATHAN CAMIRE/US ARMY HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Washington, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Monday said that US peace talks with the Taliban are "dead" after he suddenly cancelled a meeting he had scheduled with both Taliban and Afghan leaders at Camp David for this weekend.
"They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned, they're dead," Trump told reporters at the White House after being asked about the peace talks.
The president on Saturday had announced the cancellation of a "secret" meeting with the Taliban and the Afghan government he had planned for Sunday at the presidential retreat in the Maryland countryside near Washington.
Trump cancelled the meeting after the Taliban admitted carrying out an attack in Kabul on Thursday that killed 11 people, including a US soldier.
"They thought they had to kill people in order to put them in a little better negotiating position," Trump said on Monday, adding: "You can't do that. You can't do that with me."
However, the US government has not specified if the cancellation of the meeting means that the peace talks Washington and the Afghan insurgent group have been holding for more than a year in Qatar to put an end to the almost-two-decade-long war in Afghanistan are at an end.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that Washington remains open to reaching a peace accord with the Taliban, albeit one with "conditions."
Despite his unequivocal statement about the talks with the Taliban, Trump also seemed to leave the door open to future dialogue, saying that the US was still talking with the Afghan government and with others and "we'll see" what happens.
The president also denied that there were internal divisions among his team regarding the decision to host the Taliban leaders at Camp David, as some US media outlets had reported.
"There have been plenty of so-called bad people brought up to Camp David for meetings. The alternative was the White House and you wouldn't have been happy with that, either," said Trump.
The Taliban spokesman in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said on Sunday that the insurgent group had already reached an accord with the US, calling Trump's sudden announcement of the cancellation of the talks "surprising."
The agreement with the US could have opened the door to direct negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul, after such talks were briefly held in 2015, although they were suspended after several days.
The US and the Taliban have been bitter enemies since the insurgent group had protected Al Qaeda jihadists in Afghanistan before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The US invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the attacks with an eye toward destroying the Taliban, although that goal has clearly not been achieved despite almost 20 years of fighting and the deaths of some 2,400 US soldiers.
One of Trump's oft-stated objectives is to begin withdrawing thousands of the 13,000-14,000 US troops from Afghanistan, ultimately ending US involvement in that conflict.
Taliban seek clarification from US on stalled Afghan peace talks
Kabul, Sep 10 (efe-epa).- The Taliban on Tuesday sought clarification from the United States after Washington called off peace negotiations with the Afghan insurgent group after it admitted killing a US soldier in a Kabul attack last week.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said communication channels with the US were still open and the militant group was still in touch with the American negotiators.
“We have sent our message and they also replayed their message to us. We have asked official clarification from them and we are waiting for their answer,” Shaheen said in a video message shared by the group on a YouTube channel.
US President Donald Trump on Monday said the peace talks were "dead" after he suddenly canceled a "secret" meeting with the Taliban and the Afghan government he had planned for Sunday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland countryside near Washington.
"They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned, they're dead," Trump told reporters at the White House after he was asked about the peace talks.
The cancellation came after a Taliban suicide attack on Thursday in Kabul killed at least 12 people, including a US soldier.
The two sides had reached a draft agreement in principle after more than a year of negotiations on the withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country.
But Shaheen said Trump’s tweets were “surprising” for them because there was neither a ceasefire in place nor had the agreement been signed.
“It is not a satisfactory reason that recent attacks prompted Trump to call off the talks,” he said, expressing the hope that the US would return to the talks.
“The agreement is completed and both sides accepted it. We definitely want the war to (end) through peaceful means,” Shaheen said.
He insisted that the militant group had not violated any terms and added that there would be no promises before signing the deal.
“We hope the American side to review its current stance," he said. "Otherwise, it will not be in their interests.”
The spokesperson warned that the Taliban were ready to go back to the battlefield if the US didn’t return to the talks table.
“If the Americans still insist that negotiations are called off, then our policy is clear. We want first the problem be solved through negotiations. If not, then we are already on the battlefield of jihad. We proved our resistance in the past 18 years. We want to end the occupation through jihad and establish an Islamic system,” Shaheen said. EFE-EPA
‘Calling off Afghan talks a tactical move that won’t reduce violence’
By Baber Khan Sahil
Kabul, Sep 10 (EFE).- The decision to call off peace negotiations with the Taliban may be a tactical move by the United States but it won’t reduce the current high level of violence in Afghanistan, experts said on Tuesday.
The two sides were on a verge of finalizing a peace deal after nine rounds of talks when US President Donald Trump canceled the talks abruptly after the insurgent group admitted killing a US soldier in a Kabul attack on Thursday, one in a series of latest suicide strikes across the country.
In a series of tweets, Trump said if the Taliban was unable to agree to a ceasefire during peace talks, then they “probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement”.
Political analyst Matiullah Kharoti told Efe that the White House “decision won’t reduce current intensified level of Taliban violence and attacks in Afghanistan”.
The Taliban, he said, would never be able to agree to a comprehensive ceasefire for two reasons.
There are 21 militant groups who fought against the US and Afghan troops in support of the Taliban and they cannot be forced into a truce, Kharoti explained.
On the other hand, he said, Taliban’s main backers, Pakistan’s powerful military, won’t let them to completely stop their combat operations in Afghanistan.
“Trump saw the Taliban can’t deliver on the initial promise to stop their attacks. How will they be able to deliver on the rest of the promises made in the agreement,” said Kharoti, a former Kabul University professor.
However, others call Trump’s decision a pressure tactic to force Taliban into accepting demands of the US and Afghan governments.
“The decision by Trump is not a lasting strategic move. It is just a tactic to put pressure on the Taliban on intra-Afghan talks, cease violence and attacks which they use as a tool to gain leverage in negotiations,” Ahmad Sayeedi, a former Afghan diplomat in Pakistan, told Efe.
But Sayeedi warned that if peace talks didn’t resume soon “the war is going to intensity”.
Taliban has upped its frontline and urban attacks in recent months as part of a campaign to strengthen its bargaining position and gain leverage.
Before Thursday’s attack that killed 12, including an American soldier in Kabul, a Taliban truck bombing on Sep.2 in the east of the city killed 16 civilians and injured over 100.
The militant group in the last 12 days launched three major attacks in its bid to overrun capitals of northern Kunduz and Baghlan and western Farah provinces.
The attack in Baghlan was repelled. But Taliban fighters breached the security and defense belts of Kunduz and Farah cities and captured some neighborhoods for hours before they were pushed back. Intense fighting was also reported from northern Takhar, Badakhshan, and Balkh.
Calling off the peace talks, some experts say, would only heighten levels of violence in the war-torn country.
The two sides had reached a draft agreement in principle after more than a year of negotiations on the withdrawal of US troops, a comprehensive ceasefire, counter-terror assurances by the Taliban and intra-Afghan talks to end the 18-year-long conflict that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 3,500 foreign soldiers.
Abdul Baqi Amin, head of nonprofit Qased Strategic Research Center, said Trump’s decision showed there are some “serious disagreements” between the two that forced the US to call off the talks.
“On a daily basis, more than a hundred Afghans are dying. Even this year, 15 US soldiers died in Afghanistan, but Trump is calling off the talks for a single attack and losing a soldier. I am sure there are other serious disagreements in the draft,” Amin said.
He said he was sure Washington would return to the table “because the US needs to have an agreement to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan”. EFE