Pompeo says canceled Taliban meeting was attempt at peace, Democrats attack 'bizarre' plan

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE on Sunday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE's secretly planned meeting with Taliban officials as a necessary attempt to put an end to a decades-old war in Afghanistan but said canceling the talks was necessary.

At the same time, Democrats attacked the president over inviting the group's leaders to Camp David, characterizing the plan as "erratic" and "bizarre."

Pompeo said the administration is looking for proof that the Taliban will follow through on commitments before going forward with further peace negotiations. 

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"We're looking for more than words on paper. We're looking for real delivered commitment, and the Taliban demonstrated either that they weren't willing to or couldn't live up to the commitment they needed to make to reduce violence there," he said on "Fox News Sunday." 

Trump said he canceled the meeting after the Taliban claimed credit for a deadly attack in Kabul that killed 11 civilians and a U.S. service member last week. Sgt. 1st Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, 34, of Morovis, Puerto Rico, was killed by the car bomb last Thursday.

It was the third attack within a week in Afghanistan. The Taliban also claimed a suicide bombing on Tuesday in Kabul that killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 100.

Democrats criticized Trump's plan to meet with the leaders at Camp David in the first place. 

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Election 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting MORE (D-Minn.), a 2020 presidential candidate, called it "another example of the president treating foreign policy like some kind of game show." 

"He didn't even seem to have an agreement or close to an agreement when he set the summit," she said on CNN's "State of the Union." 

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro similarly called Trump's plan "more of this erratic behavior that people are tired of."

"This is the worst president when it comes to negotiating, I think, that we've had in a very long time. It's another bizarre episode," Castro said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." 

The Democrats likened it to Trump's continued summits with North Korea despite the country failing to comply with agreements. 

But the plan, which had not been announced until Trump tweeted it had been canceled, was also met with opposition from within the president's party. 

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHonoring service before self House approves Turkey sanctions in rare bipartisan rebuke of Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ill.) tweeted that the Taliban shouldn't even be allowed in the country. 

"Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn’t renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER. Full stop," he tweeted.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyLawmakers call for extra security for anti-Erdoğan protesters  Live updates on impeachment: Schiff fires warning at GOP over whistleblower Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite MORE (R-Wyo.) lauded Trump's decision to cancel the meeting but said the terrorist group shouldn't "set foot" in Camp David. 

"Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever. The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda. The President is right to end the talks," she tweeted Sunday.

Pompeo defended the plan, saying the administration has an "obligation to do everything we can" to put an end to the decades-long war killing Americans. 

Last week, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announced that the Trump administration had reached an agreement “in principle” to withdraw 5,000 troops from the country in about five months in exchange for the peace deal with the Taliban.

Pompeo told NBC that Camp David has a history of peace negotiations, "sometimes with some pretty bad actors." 

"I can't help but think that if a Democratic president had talked about having the Taliban come to Camp David to negotiate a peace process that was not already a done deal that you, as a congressman, as a soldier, as a veteran, as a West Point graduate, that you would be rather upset," CNN host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperRepublicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry Johnson dismisses testimony from White House officials contradicting Trump as 'just their impression' Saagar Enjeti: Harris campaign 'is failing because she doesn't stand for anything' MORE said to Pompeo.

"I've been fully supportive of this effort, the direction that we have taken," Pompeo responded. 

"Make no mistake about it. We will continue to punish," he added. "We will continue to protect the American people."