Trump: Peace talks with Taliban ‘dead’

President Trump said Monday that peace talks with the Taliban are “dead as far as I’m concerned.”

Trump also defended his initial decision to set up the secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David, telling reporters at the White House it was his choice alone to schedule and later cancel it after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed a dozen people, including one American soldier, last week.

“I took my own advice. I liked the idea of meeting. I’ve met with a lot of bad people and a lot of good people over the course of the last three years. I think that meeting is a great thing,” Trump told reporters on the White House’s South Lawn before departing for a campaign rally in North Carolina. “Otherwise, wars would never end.”

{mosads}“We had a meeting scheduled. It was my idea, and it was my idea to terminate it,” Trump said.

“I didn’t discuss it with anybody else. When I heard very simply that they killed one of our soldiers and 12 other innocent people, I said there’s no way I’m meeting,” Trump said, calling it a “mistake.”

The president announced on Twitter on Saturday that he had canceled the meeting, which was scheduled for Sunday at Camp David and was also supposed to include leaders from the Afghan government. Details of the meeting had not been disclosed to the press prior to Trump’s announcement.

He also tweeted that he was calling off peace negotiations with the Taliban, accusing the group of trying to create “false leverage” by carrying out the suicide bombing.

Trump has faced criticism for the idea of the meeting, which would have come days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Democrats and some Republicans have scrutinized Trump for inviting the Taliban to Camp David and for scheduling the meeting so close to the 9/11 anniversary.

Various news outlets have also reported that Vice President Pence and national security adviser John Bolton opposed Trump’s plan to invite the Taliban to Washington; however, Trump and Pence said those reports were false earlier Monday.

Trump campaigned on withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan and ending America’s longest war but has faced hurdles in fulfilling that promise. Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) have warned Trump against fully withdrawing U.S. forces, and military officials have emphasized the need for a continued presence in Afghanistan.

Trump said in late August that he plans to withdraw several thousand troops from Afghanistan but leave a presence of about 8,600. The United States currently has approximately 14,000 troops in the war-torn country.

The Trump administration has been negotiating with the Taliban for several months about a potential peace agreement that could allow for U.S. service members to withdraw and had appeared close to a deal. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said last week that the administration had reached an agreement “in principle” to close several bases and withdraw 5,000 troops within about five months.

Trump’s remarks Monday, however, signal he is ending negotiations. Trump’s remarks included an air of finality, though the president has a penchant for reversing course on decisions.

Trump said Monday he was still in discussions with the Afghan government over U.S. withdrawal.

“We’ve been there for 19 years,” Trump told reporters. “We’re practically policemen in Afghanistan.” 

Tags Donald Trump John Bolton Lindsey Graham

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