The president of the United States, Donald Trump, said Saturday that he had convened a secret summit with the Taliban and the leader of Afghanistan, abruptly opening the door to a year of diplomacy to end the longest war in the United States.
At a bomb on Saturday night, Trump said he had planned previously unknown conversations with the two sides on Sunday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but that the persistent and creepy campaign of Taliban violence made them little partners. reliable.
"Without almost everyone knowing, the main Taliban leaders and, separately, the president of Afghanistan, would meet with me in secret at Camp David on Sunday," Trump said in a tweet.
"Unfortunately, to build a false influence, they admitted an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers and 11 other people. I immediately canceled the meeting and suspended the peace negotiations."
"What kind of people would kill so many to seemingly strengthen their negotiating position? They didn't, they just made it worse!" Trump said.
A US soldier and another Romanian service member were killed in the car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday, the last major attack claimed by the Taliban, even while negotiating with a US envoy about the withdrawal of thousands of troops.
Read: NATO troops among the 10 killed in the Kabul explosion claimed by the Taliban
Trump would have met the Taliban at Camp David, the scene of secret talks in 1978 when Jimmy Carter negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt, days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which triggered the US invasion that overthrew the regime of the militants.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said The Associated Press He could not immediately confirm Trump's account of a Camp David meeting, and withheld the comment for now.
"It's a political problem," he said. "We are waiting for our leaders and will update them."
"The Afghan government, in relation to peace, appreciates the sincere efforts of its allies and is committed to working together with the United States and other allies to achieve lasting peace," he said Sunday in a statement from the office of Afghan President Ashraf. Ghani response to Trump's announcement.
"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 added.
Washington was shaken by Trump's announcement, who likes dramatic gestures but whose statements on Twitter are often questioned later.
"The idea of Trump planning to receive Taliban leaders at Camp David is a big surprise," said Laurel Miller, who served as a special US representative in Afghanistan and Pakistan until the early Trump administration.
"Why a lethal attack in Kabul on Thursday would be the reason to suspend it, given the multiple recent Taliban attacks, it is not clear," said Miller, now Asia director of the International Crisis Group. AFP.
Congressman Tom Malinowski, a Democrat who has been pressuring to clarify the US strategy in Afghanistan, called the idea of Taliban leaders in Camp David "strange." "And everyone knew that they had been continuously committing terrorist attacks.
But I am glad that the president has suspended this farce and I hope that this good decision remains, "Malinowski tweeted.
Unpopular treatment in Kabul
The tweet announcement seems to end abruptly, at least for now, a thorough diplomatic process led for almost a year by Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran US-born diplomat born in Afghanistan who held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, usually in Qatar.
Read: US envoy shows Afghan president drafting a Taliban agreement
The internationally recognized president of Afghanistan had been open in his criticism of the emerging form of the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, who refused to negotiate with his government.
When selling the plan in Kabul, Khalilzad said he had reached an agreement "in principle" with the Taliban.
According to parts of the draft agreement that was made public, the Pentagon would withdraw some 5,000 of the approximately 13,000 US troops from five bases in Afghanistan early next year.
In turn, the insurgents would renounce Al Qaeda, commit themselves to fighting the militant group of the Islamic State and prevent militants from using Afghanistan as a safe haven, the main reason for the 2001 invasion.
The public opinion of the United States has soured in almost two decades of war and Trump, after being initially persuaded to reinforce US troops, has said that the United States should not continue an "endless" war.
Question Mark about Troops
Trump's announcement generates a new question mark about whether the United States will leave Afghanistan in the short term.
The decision comes weeks before Afghanistan holds elections, an exercise difficult to handle even in more stable times.
Trump had been unusually reluctant about Afghanistan in recent weeks, with all eyes on whether he would approve a final agreement.
Washington hoped that a withdrawal of US troops would lead to negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul for a more permanent peace.
The Taliban have shown no signs of diminishing violence. In affirming the responsibility for Thursday's attack, which shook a fortified central area of Kabul, Mujahid said that a "martyrdom seeker", or suicide bomber, had killed "foreign invaders."
"Since the Taliban were flexing the muscles on the floor, the Americans also showed them that they have something to say politically," said analyst Ahmad Saeedi, adding that he expects the talks to resume again.
Trump has moved away from high-risk talks before.
In February, his assistants pressured him not to accept an agreement in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, another person who for a long time would have been unthinkable for a US president to meet.
But Trump soon made it clear that he wanted to keep talking, calling Kim friend, and agreed to meet him in June when the US leader visited the Korean peninsula.