US President Donald Trump stated that he has cancelled peace talks with the Afghan Taliban after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for the recent Kabul attacks that killed 12 people including a US soldier.
“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,” he wrote in a Twitter thread.
“They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to.. an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people,” he continued. “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse!
“If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway,” Trump said on Twitter.
The development came hours after the Afghan government welcomed a pledge by the Pentagon that the US would only accept a “good deal” from the Taliban after a wave of insurgent attacks sparked anxieties of an immediate US withdrawal.
Afghan Government’s Response
Afghanistan adored the “sincere efforts of its allies” after Donald Trump said he had called off negotiations with the Taliban, apparently ending a year-long diplomatic push to exit US’ longest war.
“The Afghan government, in relation to the peace, appreciates the sincere efforts of its allies and is committed to working together with the United States and other allies to bring lasting peace,” said a statement from President Ashraf Ghani’s office.
The statement came after Trump tweeted late Saturday that he had planned unprecedented, albeit separate, talks with the Taliban and with Ghani on Sunday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. The secret talks would have come after months of diplomatic wrangling between the US and the Taliban over a deal that would allow Washington to begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.
The US-backed Ghani government in Kabul had eyed the deal with deep mistrust and long complained of being ignored from the talks.
“We have always insisted 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,” the statement from Ghani’s office said.
India has always supported the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled,” process and has always wanted the exclusion of arch-rivals Pakistan from the final settlement plan.
Ever since the reconstruction work commenced in Afghanistan, India invested over $3 billion building roads, hospitals, schools, providing training and arms, fighter aircraft to the Afghan armed forces.
The coming of the Taliban to the centre stage in Afghanistan will not only heighten insecurity in the country, but it will also pose a huge security threat to India because Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan will increase and Islamabad could use the Taliban against India.
With Donald Trump announcing the cancellation of negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, New Delhi would have breathed a sigh of relief, even if short-lived, and Pakistan would see this as yet another roadblock for their dream of dominating Afghanistan and limiting Indian influence.