Trump Declares Afghan Peace Talks With Taliban ‘Dead’

WASHINGTON — President Trump declared that peace talks with the Taliban were “dead, as far as I’m concerned,” saying he called off a meeting at Camp David after the militant group in Afghanistan killed 12 people, including one American soldier.

Speaking to reporters on Monday as he left for a political rally in North Carolina, Mr. Trump said he did not intend to try to revive efforts to reach a peace accord with the Taliban that could accelerate the removal of American troops from the country.

“They are dead — they are dead. As far as I’m concerned they are dead,” Mr. Trump said of peace talks, accusing the group of the attack that killed an American soldier from Puerto Rico. “You can’t do that. You can’t do that with me. So they are dead as far as I’m concerned.”

The president’s declaration was the latest evidence of difficulty in the nine-month effort to negotiate an exit of American troops from Afghanistan after America’s longest war, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But it was unclear whether Mr. Trump’s angry denunciation would mean a permanent end to the talks. The president has demonstrated a willingness to swing from one extreme to the other in the conduct of foreign policy, for example alternately condemning and then praising Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

The long-running effort to negotiate peace in Afghanistan has split the administration, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supporting it, but with John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, opposing the talks.

Mr. Trump had promised during his presidential campaign to withdraw American troops from endless wars around the world, and has pushed to bring soldiers home from Afghanistan and Iraq. The president defended the idea of finalizing a peace agreement at Camp David, saying the famous presidential retreat had been used before to host people who “would not have been considered politically correct.”

But he said that it was his decision — and his alone — to cancel the meeting after word of the Taliban attacks.

“It was my idea, and it was my idea to terminate it,” Mr. Trump said. “I didn’t discuss it with anybody else. When I heard, very simply, that they killed one of our soldiers and 12 other innocent people, I said ‘There is no way I’m meeting on that basis.’”

To underscore that the peace talks with the Taliban were off, Mr. Trump asserted, without providing any evidence, that the United States military had “hit the Taliban harder in the last four days than they’ve been hit in over 10 years. So that’s the way it is.”

Today, though, the American military presence in Afghanistan is far lower than it has been in prior years, when tens of thousands of troops from the United States were engaged in much more aggressive and frequent engagement with the Taliban.

Source: NYT

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