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

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Pence says US is 'locked and loaded' to defend allies US-Iran next moves — Déjà vu of Obama administration mistakes? MORE on Sunday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 KlobucharObama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' Kamala Harris calls for new investigation into Kavanaugh allegations Overnight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks 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 KinzingerBolton returns to political group after exiting administration Overnight Defense: Trump ousts Bolton in shocker | Fallout, reaction from GOP senators | Senate spending talks in chaos | Dems eye vote to nix Trump border emergency The Hill's 12:30 Report: Bolton out as national security adviser 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 CheneyLiz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate Overnight Defense: Afghanistan tops foreign policy issues at Dem debate | Erdogan says he'll discuss missile sale with Trump | US again challenges Beijing's claim to South China Sea 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 TapperO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' O'Rourke's debate moment reignites gun debate on Sunday shows Cicilline: O'Rourke's AR-15 comment 'doesn't help' 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."