President Donald Trump announced that he abruptly canceled a previously-unreported secret meeting with the Taliban and The New York Times reports it was because he wanted credit for a peace deal for himself.
Trump announced that “unbeknownst to almost everyone,” Trump was set to meet with Taliban leaders and the Afghan president at Camp David ahead of the 9/11 anniversary to discuss a peace deal. Trump tweeted that he canceled the meeting after a Taliban attack killed an American soldier.
But the New York Times reports that the meeting appears to have come together and then fell apart because Trump wanted to get all the credit for hammering out a peace deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Trump that the department’s negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, had a preliminary agreement that would allow the US to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in exchange for an agreement from the Taliban not to harbor terrorists.
Trump decided that he would bring not just the Taliban, but the Afghan president, whose government was not part of the talks, and get him to sign an agreement.
How Trump’s meeting fell apart:
“Trump came up with an even more remarkable idea — he would not only bring the Taliban to Washington, but to Camp David, the crown jewel of the American presidency,” The Times reported. But Trump wanted to ensure he got the credit for himself.
On September 1, Khalilzad and the Taliban had finalized an agreement. The leaders were invited to Washington, but accepted only on the condition that the deal be announced before the trip.
“That would become a fundamental dividing point contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be,” The Times reported.
The deal fell apart after the Taliban, which had refused to negotiate with the Afghan government until finalizing a deal with the US, backed out. The Afghan government also disagreed with an agreement about releasing thousands of Taliban prisoners.
A senior Taliban leader told The Times that “Trump was fooling himself to think he could bring the Taliban and Mr. Ghani together at Camp David ‘because we do not recognize the stooge government’ in Kabul.”
Republicans criticize Trump for inviting Taliban ahead of 9/11 anniversary:
“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,” House Republican leader Liz Cheney tweeted. “No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote that “Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn’t renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER. Full stop.”