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Trump Says He Canceled Afghan Peace Talks After Bombing

08 Sep 2019 Radio Free Europe

By Todd Prince

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump said he canceled a meeting in Washington with Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after a car bomb in Kabul killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier.

In a series of angry tweets on September 7, Trump said he had planned to "secretly" hold peace talks with the two sides at Camp David on the following day.

Trump accused the Taliban of trying to increase their negotiating leverage by carrying out the September 5 car bombing that took place in a neighborhood that is home to embassies, government buildings, and the local NATO headquarters.

"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 in a tweet.

Trump is seeking to end the nearly 18-year conflict in Afghanistan and pull U.S. troops out of the country to fulfill a campaign promise he made in 2016. Trump is running for reelection in 2020.

Taliban leaders have to date rejected negotiations with the Afghan government, seeing it as a puppet of the United States.

The militant group had been stepping up operations across Afghanistan in recent days just as U.S. and Taliban negotiators appeared to be closing in on an accord to end the fighting.

Early on September 6, the Taliban launched an offensive against the western Afghan city of Farah -- the third provincial capital to come under attack in less than a week.

The bombings came as the U.S. envoy negotiating with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, reached an agreement "in principle" with the militant group following nine rounds of talks in Qatar.

An Afghan cabinet minister who asked not to be named told RFE/RL on September 6 that the U.S. government canceled Ghani's trip.

However, the cabinet minister said the cancelation was due to Ghani's opposition to the text of the draft peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban.

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