cloudy.png
Thursday September 19th, 2019 8:49AM

Trump says peace talks with Taliban are now "dead"

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. peace talks with the Taliban are now "dead," President Donald Trump declared Monday, one day after he abruptly canceled a secret meeting he had arranged with Taliban and Afghan leaders aimed at ending America's longest war.

Trump's remark to reporters at the White House suggested he sees no point in resuming a nearly yearlong effort to reach a political settlement with the Taliban, whose protection of al-Qaida extremists in Afghanistan prompted the U.S. to invade after the 9/11 attacks.

Asked about the peace talks, Trump said, "They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned, they're dead."

It's unclear whether Trump will go ahead with planned U.S. troop cuts and how the collapse of his talks will play out in deeply divided Afghanistan.

In his remarks to reporters Monday, Trump said his administration is "looking at" whether to proceed with troop reductions that had been one element of the preliminary deal with the Taliban struck by presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

"We'd like to get out, but we'll get out at the right time," Trump said.

What had seemed like a potential deal to end America's longest war unraveled, with Trump and the Taliban blaming each other for the collapse of nearly a year of U.S.-Taliban negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

The insurgents are now promising more bloodshed, and American advocates of withdrawing from the battlefield questioned on Monday whether Trump's decision to cancel what he called plans for a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at the Camp David, Maryland, presidential retreat over the weekend had poisoned the prospects for peace.

"The Camp David ploy appears to have been an attempt to satisfy Trump's obsession with carefully curated public spectacles -- to seal the deal, largely produced by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators, with the president's imprimatur," said John Glaser director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

Trump has been talking of a need to withdraw U.S. troops from the "endless war" in Afghanistan since his 2016 presidential campaign. And he said anew in a tweet on Monday, "We have been serving as policemen in Afghanistan, and that was not meant to be the job of our Great Soldiers, the finest on earth."

He added, without explanation, "Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years."

There has been no evidence of a major U.S. military escalation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump's weekend moves.

"When the Taliban tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside of the country, President Trump made the right decision to say that's not going to work," Pompeo said Sunday.

Trump said he called off negotiations because of a recent Taliban bombing in Kabul that killed a U.S. service member, even though nine other Americans have died since June 25 in Taliban-orchestrated violence. But the emerging agreement had started unraveling days earlier after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani postponed his trip to Washington and the Taliban refused to travel to the U.S. before a deal was signed, according to a former senior Afghan official.

As Trump's re-election campaign heats up, his quest to withdraw the remaining 13,000 to 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan remains unfulfilled — so far.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Jonathan Hoffman declined Monday to comment on the outlook for the administration's plan to reduce the U.S. troop level in Afghanistan to 8,600.

Democrats said Trump's decision to nix a deal with the Taliban was evidence that he was moving too quickly to get one. Far from guaranteeing a cease-fire, the deal only included Taliban commitments to reduce violence in Kabul and neighboring Parwan province, where the U.S. has a military base.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government it sees as illegitimate and a puppet of the West. So, the Trump administration tried another approach, negotiating with the Taliban first to get a deal that would lead to Taliban talks with Afghans inside and outside the government.

Some administration officials, including national security adviser John Bolton, did not back the agreement with the Taliban as it was written, a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations said. They didn't think the Taliban can be trusted. Bolton advised the president to draw down the U.S. force to 8,600 — enough to counter terror threats — and "let it be" until a better deal could be hammered out, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

Khalilzad, the lead U.S. negotiator, recently announced that he had reached an agreement in principle with the Taliban. Under the deal, the U.S. would withdraw about 5,000 U.S. troops within 135 days of signing. In exchange, the insurgents agreed to reduce violence and prevent Afghanistan from being used as a launch pad for global terror attacks, including from a local Islamic State affiliate and al-Qaida.

Pompeo said the Taliban agreed to break with al-Qaida — something that past administrations have failed to get the Taliban to do.

The insurgent group hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as he masterminded the 9/11 attacks in 2001. After the attacks, the U.S. ousted the Taliban, which had ruled Afghanistan with a harsh version of Islamic law from 1996 to 2000.

But problems quickly emerged. On Thursday, a second Taliban car bomb exploded near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, killing 12 people including a U.S. soldier. Khalilzad abruptly returned to Doha, Qatar, for more negotiations with the Taliban. He has since been recalled to Washington.

It's unclear if the talks will resume because the Taliban won't trust future deals they negotiate with the U.S. if they think Trump might then change course, according to the former senior Afghan official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue and spoke only on condition of anonymity. The official, who has discussed the peace process with U.S. and Afghan officials, said Khalilzad's team was not aware of Trump's plans to tweet the end of the talks Saturday evening.

Trump's suspension of the negotiations "will harm America more than anyone else," the Taliban said in a statement.

The former Afghan official said the deal fell apart for two main reasons. First, the Taliban refused to sign an agreement that didn't state the end date for a complete withdrawal of American forces. That date was to be either November 2020, the same month of the U.S. presidential election, or January 2021, he said.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement was to be followed by Taliban talks with Afghans inside and outside the government to chart a political future for the country. Ghani told Khalilzad that putting a withdrawal date in the agreement would undermine the all-Afghan discourse before it began.

Secondly, the U.S. was unsuccessful in convincing Ghani to postpone the Afghan presidential election set for Sept. 28, the official said. The U.S. argued that if the elections were held and Ghani won, his opponents and other anti-Ghani factions would protest the results, creating a political crisis that would make the all-Afghan talks untenable. Other disagreements included why the deal did not address the Taliban's linkages to Pakistan and prisoner-hostage exchanges, the official said.

___

Associated Press writers Cara Anna and Rahim Faiez in Kabul; Jonathan Lemire in Washington, and Julie Walker with AP Radio contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Business - Financial Markets
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Rescuers pull out men trapped inside capsized cargo ship
Coast Guard rescuers began pulling trapped crew members from a capsized cargo ship Monday, finding them alive more than a day after the vessel overturned while leaving a port on the Georgia coast
3:26PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Judge reinstates nationwide halt on Trump asylum policy plan
A US judge in California has reinstated a nationwide halt on the Trump administration's plan to prevent most migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border
3:25PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Trump says peace talks with Taliban are now "dead"
President Donald Trump said Monday that U.S. peace talks with the Taliban on ending the war in Afghanistan are now "dead."
3:23PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Afghans brace for fresh violence after US-Taliban talks halt
Afghans are bracing for a possible new wave of Taliban violence after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off nearly a year of talks with the insurgent group just when a deal to end America's longest war seemed to be at hand
2:49PM ( 52 minutes ago )
States led by Texas target Google in new antitrust probe
A large group of states led by Texas have announced an investigation into whether Google has gotten too big and effective at stomping or acquiring rivals.
2:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Brown University official suspended amid Epstein gift probe
Brown University has placed a fundraising director on administrative leave following a report that accused him of participating in covering up disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein's connections to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab
1:16PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Irish border riddle still confounds the Brexit experts
With Brexit due on Oct. 31 and a costly withdrawal without a deal a possibility, experts still do not appear to know or are not saying exactly what checks are likely at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland
11:52AM ( 3 hours ago )
Juul warned over claims e-cigarette safer than smoking
FDA warns vaping giant Juul over claims its e-cigarette is safer than smoking
11:30AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: UK speaker Bercow to step down
U.K. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow says he will step down by the end of next month after a decade in the job
10:46AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Afghan peace effort in disarray after Trump ends talks
President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to cancel a secret negotiation with the Taliban and Afghan leaders has thrown the peace process into disarray
2:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
Plan for Taliban meeting latest bold Trump gamble to unravel
Trump's weekend tweet canceling secret meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Afghan leaders is the latest example of a president willing to take a big risk in pursuit of a foreign policy victory only to see it dashed
6:20AM ( 9 hours ago )
Harris seeks end to executions, cash bail, private prisons
In criminal justice plan, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris calls for abolishing death penalty, ending cash bail, eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing
6:10AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Elections
Sanford's 2020 challenge to Trump called 'vanity project'
Mark Sanford, the ex-South Carolina governor and congressman, is making a longshot Republican challenge to President Donald Trump, and aiming to put his Appalachian trail travails behind him for good as he tries to navigate a path to the presidency
1:33PM ( 1 day ago )
Ex-SC Gov. Mark Sanford to challenge Trump in primary
Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman, has decided to launch a longshot Republican challenge to President Donald Trump
12:15PM ( 1 day ago )
Biden in lead, but does campaign have enthusiasm to keep it?
Joe Biden struggles to inspire public support to back up his front-runner status in the Democratic presidential race
11:41AM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Missouri GOP Gov. Parson expected to make strong 2020 bid
Missouri's Republican governor, Mike Parson, is expected to announce that he's running for a full term in office
2:45PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Explains: How US-Taliban talks collapsed on Afghanistan
AP Explains: How US-Taliban talks collapsed on Afghanistan and ending America's longest war
7:12AM ( 1 day ago )
SC GOP scraps 2020 presidential primary; others may follow
Republican leaders in South Carolina have voted to scrap their presidential primary in 2020, while party officials in Kansas and Nevada are deciding later Saturday whether to follow suit with their nominating contests
12:17PM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Rescuers pull out men trapped inside capsized cargo ship
Coast Guard rescuers began pulling trapped crew members from a capsized cargo ship Monday, finding them alive more than a day after the vessel overturned while leaving a port on the Georgia coast
3:26PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Judge reinstates nationwide halt on Trump asylum policy plan
A US judge in California has reinstated a nationwide halt on the Trump administration's plan to prevent most migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border
3:25PM ( 17 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump says US-Taliban peace talks are 'dead'
President Donald Trump says U.S. talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan are "dead" after they collapsed last week
3:18PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Abrams tells Democrats: Go after Georgia, irregular voters
Stacey Abrams is pushing national Democrats to treat Georgia as a 2020 battleground and to follow her 2018 strategy nationwide by expanding the Democratic electorate
3:17PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Billy Crudup among readers for tribute to DeLillo classic
One of the classic works of literary baseball writing, Don DeLillo's "Pafko at the Wall," will get a celebrity reading next month at the 92nd Street Y in New York City
3:14PM ( 28 minutes ago )