WASHINGTON : U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that peace talks with the Taliban are “dead” after he canceled a planned summit outside of the nation’s capital in retaliation for a Taliban attack that killed a dozen people, including a U.S. service member.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “They thought that they had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position. When they did that they killed twelve people; one happened to be a great American soldier.”
“You can’t do that with me,” he added.
Trump earlier Monday denied reports that he overruled top administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, when he planned a since-canceled secretive meeting with the Taliban at the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Trump said the reports of infighting within his administration are “a lot of Fake News,” insisting in a series of tweets “this Story is False!”
“I always think it is good to meet and talk, but in this case I decided not to,” Trump said. “We have been serving as policemen in Afghanistan, and that was not meant to be the job of our Great Soldiers, the finest on earth. Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!”
Trump canceled the meeting planned to be held just outside of the nation’s capital after an attack in Kabul last week that was claimed by the Taliban killed a U.S. service member and 11 other victims.
Trump’s announcement, made in an abrupt flurry of last-night tweets Saturday, caught many by surprise. The Camp David sit-down, which was to be held Sunday, was not previously disclosed publicly.
He appeared to be responding in his tweets issued Monday to a report by CNN that said the president overruled Pence and other senior advisors, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, when he planned to host the Taliban at Camp David in the mountains just 70 miles northwest of the capital.
Bolton reportedly opposed the talks altogether.
The Camp David meeting would have taken place just three days before the U.S. commemorates the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed 3,000 people, and which was claimed by al-Qaeda.
It was meant to be a capstone to talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar that had lasted months. After nine rounds, the U.S. and Taliban appeared to be nearing the final contours of a deal that would have set the stage for the U.S. withdraw to its forces from Afghanistan after 18 years of combat.
Trump has been seeking to withdraw a significant portion of the U.S.’s 14,000 troops in Afghanistan ahead of the 2020 presidential election.AA