- In a series of tweets Saturday, President Donald Trump revealed plans for a secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David on Sunday, just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
- In that same tweet, he said he was not only cancelling the meeting but also calling off peace negotiations with the insurgent forces the US has been battling for nearly two decades in war-torn Afghanistan. The Taliban has used suicide bombings to kill NATO troops and civilians.
- In planning the meeting, the president pushed ahead despite warnings from his top advisers, which included the vice president and national security adviser John Bolton, that such a meeting at this time might be a bad idea, CNN reported Monday.
- On Monday, Trump denied he had “overruled the VP and various advisors” on holding Taliban talks at Camp David, and called these reports “false.” Pence called the reports “fake,” and told Trump, “I FULLY support your decision,” without specifying whether he had initially objected to the plan to meet with the Taliban at Camp David.
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In planning a secret meeting with Taliban leaders, President Donald Trump ignored the warnings of his top advisers, who told him that meeting with members of the insurgency ahead of the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was a bad idea,CNN reported Monday.
Trump revealed in a series of tweets Saturday that he had been planning to host Taliban leaders and Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, at a secret meeting at Camp David on Sunday. In those tweets, Trump announced that he cancelled the meeting, citing a Taliban bombing that killed “one of our great soldiers” and 11 other people.
The US has been attempting to secure a negotiated peace with the Taliban in order to bring an end to a war that has been ongoing for 18 years. Trump, who is eager to pull troops out of a country that has claimed over 2,400 American lives, had grown impatient with the challenging negotiations and believed that he could do better in a face-to-face negotiation with the insurgency, CNN reported Monday.
Trump gathered his advisers a few days before Labour Day to discuss a path to peace in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Sunday. The president initially said he wanted to host peace negotiations in Washington, but in the days that followed, he decided to bring the various parties to Camp David, a presidential retreat. The meeting was reportedly to be followed by a “grand announcement.”
The reported plans appear reminiscent to the historic meetings between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meetings which have so far been filled with many historic firsts but short on meaningful progress.
In planning the sit-down with the Taliban leadership, Trump’s advisers, reportedly including Vice President Mike Pence and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, warned the president that meeting with the Taliban, a force that supported the Al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks, just days before the 18th anniversary of those attacks was not the best idea, CNN reported Monday, citing US officials familiar with the situation.
Bolton, according to The New York Times, advised the president not to get in bed with killers. Trump, who was personally invested in the plans, decided to go ahead with the meeting.
On Monday afternoon, Trump denied reports that he had “overruled the VP and various advisors” on holding Taliban talks at Camp David, and called the reports “false.” The vice president tweeted that the CNN report was “fake news,” adding that he “fully” supports the president.
“The vice president reserves his counsel for the President, and anyone claiming to know his thoughts on the matter aside from the President is mistaken,” a spokesman for Pence told CNN.
Trump has a history of ignoring advisers and experts on matters in the Middle East, as well as other issues such as the ongoing trade war with China.
Only a few advisers knew of the plans for a meeting, which Trump decided to cancel Thursday. In his tweet Saturday, the president revealed that not only did he cancel the meeting, but he also “called off peace negotiations,” casting uncertainty over the fate of talks with the Taliban.
A weekend report from The New York Times suggested that negotiations with the Taliban had hit something of a speed bump and that Trump cancelled the meeting in response to Taliban resistance.
In the aftermath of Trump’s tweets, a Taliban spokesman warned that “this will lead to more losses to the US,” Reuters reported. “Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase,” he continued.
When questioned on “Fox News Sunday” about whether talks with the Taliban were finished, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been supportive of diplomatic engagement, said, “For the time being, they are.” In a later interview with CNN, he said that US forces had killed more than 1,000 Taliban fighters in a period of just 10 days.
In his tweets Saturday, Trump asked, “How many more decades are they willing to fight?”