WASHINGTON: The president of the United States, Donald Trump, surprised many people on Saturday night when he announced that he was supposed to meet with the Taliban leaders and the Afghan president at Camp David on Sunday, but those talks were suspended.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told CNN that the United States was still interested in reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban, provided they renounced violence.
Camp David is a retreat from the country of the president of the United States and it was there in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter negotiated the Camp David Accords between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Apparently, President Trump chose this site for his talks with the Taliban because he expected this meeting to be historically as important as the Sadat-Begin meeting.
As usual, President Trump used his Twitter account to drop the bomb to the unsuspecting public. "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," he wrote in the tweet. "They were coming to the United States tonight (Saturday)."
Trump's announcement followed a statement by the Taliban, admitting Thursday a car bomb attack at a security post near NATO headquarters in Kabul that killed 12 people. Two NATO soldiers, one American and one Romanian, also died in the attack.
"What kind of people would kill so many people to apparently strengthen their negotiating position?" Trump said in the tweet.
"If they can't accept a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and they would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don't have the power to negotiate a meaningful deal anyway," he wrote.
He cites the bombing of Kabul as the reason for the decision; The Taliban express disappointment; Pakistan urges to resume negotiations
The Taliban also used Twitter to respond to Trump's announcement, saying they found his statement disappointing.
“A few days ago, we finalized an agreement with the American team, whose text was addressed to the leaders of both teams and sent to Qatar. Everyone was satisfied, ”Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen wrote in the tweet.
“It was agreed that the country of Qatar would announce it. At this time, President Trump's disappointing tweets have been incredible and have certainly damaged his credibility, "the Taliban spokesman wrote, indicating that while the militants were aware of the agreement, they did not expect the announcement.
Hours after Trump announced the cancellation of the Camp David meeting, his foreign policy chief told CNN that Washington still wanted an agreement but would not move forward until the Taliban leaders demonstrated that they could fulfill their commitments.
"I think, as you saw, if the Taliban don't behave, if they don't comply … the president of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure," he said.
Secretary Pompeo listed several elements that said the Taliban had accepted, in principle, as direct talks with Afghan leaders, reducing violence and breaking ties with al Qaeda.
"If we cannot meet those conditions … we will not enter into any agreement," he said.
Secretary Pompeo also said Sunday's meeting was in process "for a while" and defended Trump's decision to invite Taliban leaders to Camp David.
"When the Taliban tried to gain a negotiating advantage by carrying out terrorist attacks within the country, President Trump made the right decision" to withdraw, he said. "It made no sense that the Taliban were rewarded for that kind of bad behavior."
Taliban spokesman Shaheen referred to this in another tweet, saying that the two sides had agreed to "numerous intra-Afghan talks in different countries," but nothing had been finalized. "There were multiple international meetings in different countries" before a final agreement on direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, he wrote.
Michael Kugelman, a senior associate of South Asia at the Wilson Center, Washington, tweeted a possible reason for Trump's withdrawal: "I needed a pretext to withdraw from an agreement that was not going to work." He found one and, in announcing it, tried to put the Taliban in the rear to improve the negotiating position of the US government. UU. In possible future negotiations. "
A report from the US media said Trump decided to have direct talks with the Taliban because he believed "he would be better positioned to negotiate himself."
"The location was the subject of a dispute, but ultimately, Trump signed at Camp David, aware of his history in organizing talks with foreign leaders," the report added.
Barnett R. Rubin, a former advisor on South Asian affairs in the United States and the United Nations, wrote in a tweet: “Afghanistan desperately needs the end of more than 40 years of torment. Unfortunately, that is not enough to motivate the various bloodshed authors to stop. We have no alternative but to continue looking for imperfect solutions. "
Secretary Pompeo said the United States seemed to be close to a good agreement before the attack in Kabul. "We have it in hand, and there is still a lot of work to do … but in the end, it will not be about the commitment, but about its delivery," he said. "We will continue to drive towards that result."
US media reports said the decision to invite Taliban leaders and President Ashraf Ghani to Camp David was made a week ago at a meeting between President Trump and his national security officials.
Reports claim that Trump had been discouraged by the peace talks after national security adviser John Bolton and Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican and foreign policy falcon in South Carolina, told him that the emerging plan relied too much on The Taliban Then, he decided to have direct conversations.
Last week arrangements were made to take Taliban leaders to the United States, and President Ghani had already planned a trip to Washington.
CNN reported that after the bombing on Thursday, the national security team met again and informed Trump about the situation. Then the decision was made to cancel the talks and Ghani canceled his trip. Taliban leaders never arrived in the United States.
For its part, Pakistan reiterated that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict and urged all parties to re-participate in an effort to find a negotiated agreement using the ongoing political process.
"Pakistan is looking for an optimized compromise after the earlier resumption of the talks," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Pakistan has always condemned the violence and asked all parties for moderation and commitment to continue the process," he said.
The statement added that Pakistan had been facilitating the peace and reconciliation process in good faith and as a shared responsibility, and had encouraged all parties to remain committed with sincerity and patience.
Posted in Dawn, September 9, 2019