On Saturday, President Trump announced that he had invited Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for talks at Camp David, but he had canceled the plans after learning that a car bombing from the Taliban had killed Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, last Thursday. He tweeted:
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 an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. 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. How many more decades are they willing to fight?
Apparently responding to Trump’s tweets, a Taliban source told The Times that the 18 years the U.S. has fought the Taliban was only the beginning, saying, “We will fight. We have fought for 18 years and we will fight for a hundred years. We will continue our jihad. They will have to pay a price. We were invited to Camp David but refused to go. The U.S. wanted us to announce a nationwide ceasefire, but again we refused. It is not possible for us.”
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, threatened, “This will lead to more losses to the U.S. Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world; losses to lives and assets will increase,” as Reuters reported. Reuters added, “There are currently 14,000 U.S. forces as well as thousands of other NATO troops in the country.”
On Sunday, U.S. congresswoman Liz Cheney commented on the idea that the Taliban would be invited to Camp David, tweeting, “Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever. The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda. The President is right to end the talks.”
As Stars and Stripes reported, on Sunday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that the Trump administration had recalled envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been negotiating with the Taliban leaders. He said, “They tried to use terror to improve their negotiating position. The Taliban overreached.” Pompeo asserted that the agreement the U.S. had tentatively reached with the Taliban included their commitment to sever relations with Al Qaeda, adding, “And then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments that they had made, and when that happened President Trump said, ‘I’m not going to take that deal. I’m not going to work with someone that can’t deliver on their commitments.'”
Pompeo added on CBS’ “State of the Union,” “President Trump made clear we’re not just going to withdraw because there’s a timeline. We’re only going to reduce our forces when certain conditions are met.”