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Trump-Taliban talks cancelled: Explained

Trump Taliban Talks: Trump has declared US negotiations with the Taliban as “dead”. Trump stated he has no further interest in meeting the group.

Sep 10, 2019 16:16 IST
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Trump cancels secret meeting with Taliban

Trump Taliban Talks: US President Donald Trump has declared US talks with Taliban as dead. Trump closed the doors of US-Taliban peace talks after they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed a US soldier and 11 others. Trump was supposed to have a secret meeting with the top Taliban leaders but called it off at the last minute when he got to know about the attack. 

Trump said that the US peace talks with the Taliban are dead, as far as he is concerned.  Trump claimed, "we have hit the Taliban harder in the last four days than they have been hit in the last ten years."

On September 8, 2019, Trump tweeted saying, “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.”

The Trump Taliban talks were, however, cut short after the Taliban admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one US soldier Elis Barreto Ortiz and 11 others. Trump said that he immediately cancelled the meeting and called off the peace negotiations.

Trump stated that if the Taliban cannot agree to a ceasefire during the very important peace talks and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement.

Trump Taliban talks

The major Taliban leaders were scheduled to meet Donald Trump in Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland on September 8. Trump was also scheduled to meet Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani separately, to mediate peace in Afghanistan and draft a deal that would enable smooth withdrawal of US troops from the nation, bringing an end to one of US’s longest wars.

US-Taliban keep door open for fresh talks

Despite Trump’s statement of cancelling the peace talks, the US and Taliban have kept the door open for fresh talks on the pullout of US troops from Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not rule out a return to talks but said that the United States needed a "significant commitment" from the Taliban.

Pompeo said that he has watched the Taliban do and say things they've not been permitted to do before. He said he is not a pessimist and hopes that the Taliban will change their behavior. Pompeo urged the Taliban to drop its refusal to negotiate with Ashraf Ghani's internationally recognised government. He further added saying that at the end, he believes that the matter will be resolved through a series of conversations.

Taliban warns of greater costs

Following Trump’s move of cancelling the secret meeting, the Taliban insurgents warned of inflicting greater costs. "Americans will be harmed more than any other by Trump's decision," a Taliban statement warned.

A statement from the Taliban read, “US credibility will be harmed, their anti-peace stance will become more visible to the world, their casualties and financial losses will increase. The US role in international political interaction will be discredited even further."

The US negotiation with the Taliban has been going on for almost a year. With the current fallout, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that Trump showed "neither experience nor patience." At the same time, the Taliban spokesman said that the Taliban still believe that the America will come back to this position of talks that seek "the complete end of the occupation."

Pompeo also issued a warning to the Taliban that if they don’t behave or deliver on the commitments they made to the US, the president of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure placed on them. Pompeo pointed out that the United States was also inflicting a toll on the Taliban, saying that US forces had killed more than 1,000 insurgents in the past 10 days alone.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s office saluted the "sincere efforts of its allies" after Trump called off the summit. The Afghan President’s office also issued a statement saying that real peace can only be achieved if the Taliban stop killing Afghans and accept a ceasefire and face-to-face talks with the Afghan government.

US withdrawal of Troops from Afghanistan

US President Donald Trump had announced in December 2018 that he was considering a substantial US pullout from the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan. 

In the current situation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Trump had not decided whether to go ahead with the withdrawal. Under the draft deal, the US has proposed to pull out roughly 5000 of its troops from the total 13000 in Afghanistan in the next year.

Trump Taliban secret meeting ahead of 9/11?

The Trump Taliban talks were surprisingly scheduled just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which had been the primary trigger for the US to send its troops into Afghanistan in the first place. The move came as a surprise to many American leaders and it attracted criticism as Trump had invited the Taliban leaders to the US soil, at the very place where American leaders had met to plan out their response against the Al-Qaeda attack on the United States.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Under Operation Enduring Freedom, the US in a coalition of 40 countries (including all NATO members) had invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to weed out al-Qaida leaders who were responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in the United States.

The coalition was successful in driving the Taliban out of power. The main aim was to deny al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan and the Taliban which was known to be supporting Al-Qaida had held most of the power in Afghanistan before then.

After the Taliban was driven out power, the war largely involved the US and Afghan troops battling out the Taliban insurgents. The US war in Afghanistan is known to be the second-longest war in US history, after the Vietnam War.

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