After almost a year of negotiating, President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with the Taliban at Camp David via a tweet on Saturday night. The president cited a recent deadly Taliban car bomb that killed an American soldier as the reason, but officials told the New York Times that the real reasons talks ended were because the two parties disagreed over the final details and announcement of the agreement.
Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2019
“I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” Trump said in a separate tweet. “What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?”
Trump made an electoral promise to end the war in Afghanistan, and a deal between the US and Taliban would be a step toward that goal. But, the agreement was already showing signs of trouble because it had been negotiated solely between the US and the Taliban, leaving the Afghan government out of the process.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was openly critical of the deal, saying, “Our future cannot be decided outside, whether in the capital cities of our friends or neighbors. The fate of Afghanistan will be decided here in Afghanistan,” Reuters reported. The Afghan government also disliked the deal because it included no guarantees the Taliban would stop its attacks against the people of Afghanistan. But, Ghani had agreed to his own Camp David meeting with Trump in hopes of reaching peace.
Trump also faced criticism from Americans who were unhappy with the decision to host leadership of the Taliban, which provided shelter for Osama Bin Laden before September 11, 2001, so close to the 18th anniversary of the attacks.
After a year and several rounds of negotiations, the two parties had come very close to a final agreement, with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad saying that they had reached a deal “in principal.” But, the negotiations had recently stalled because the Taliban would not agree to prevent global terrorists from seeking refuge in their lands.
After Trump canceled the meeting, the Taliban issued a statement that read: “More than anyone else, the loss will be for the United States — their standing will be hurt, their anti-peace position will be clearer to the world, their human and treasure loss will increase, and their political actions will come across as unstable. Twenty years ago, too, we had called for understanding, and this remains our position today.”
“Such a reaction towards a single attack just before the signing of an agreement displays lack of composure and experience,” the Taliban added.
Ghani’s government also issued a statement saying, “We have always said that a real peace is possible only when the Taliban stop killing Afghans, accept a ceasefire and start direct negotiations with the Afghan government.”
The Afghan government was also worried that the US might withdraw troops before a deal was agreed upon. Currently, America still has approximately 14,000 troops in Afghanistan; initial negotiations had the US agreeing to withdraw 5,000 soldiers initially.