Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Pompeo: Taliban 'overreached' in attack that killed American

Two hijacked commercial planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center Tuesday Donald Trump says he called off planned Taliban peace talks over Kabul attack
Patty Aguilar | 10 September, 2019, 12:48

On Friday, Khalilzad met with Taliban lead negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, with Qatar's foreign minister present, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet late in the evening.

Others in the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reacted positively to Trump's decision. Trump announced the talks would not take place following a Taliban suicide bombing that killed 12 people, including one US paratrooper, Thursday. In exchange, the Taliban were to promise they would not allow Afghanistan to be a base for global terrorist attacks.

Taliban claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombing in the east of Kabul that killed 12 people.

"The game is not played by Afghans", said Ahmad Eqbal, 25-year-old medical graduate working in a Kabul private hospital.

"We have an obligation to reduce risk, and at the same time we can not permit terror to strike again from Afghanistan here into the United States", he continued.

The president made the cancellation announcement Saturday in a series of tweets. "If you don't talk to them, it's just going to continue".

"The Americans will suffer more than anyone else for cancelling the talks", Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the hardline insurgent group, said in a statement.

The U.S. has insisted that no deal would be final until the Taliban reached an accord with Ghani, direct talks that the Taliban long refused to undertake. "Let's see the future".

Moscow, which hosted its own track of peace talks with the Taliban (with two meetings in February and May), is the other power that believes making a deal with the Taliban would bring peace to Afghanistan and keep Islamic State at bay. Everyone was satisfied. It was agreed that Qatar would announce the deal.

Pompeo said he hopes that's not the case and that the Taliban will recommit to the issues being negotiated. "No one has a higher stake in ending this war than Afghans on both sides", the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Shaharzad Akbar, said. "It's up to the Taliban".

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Her statement came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced hopes for talks to resume. People watch a TV showing a file image of a North Korea's missile launch.

"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", US Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican whose father, Dick Cheney, was US vice president at the time of the attacks, wrote on Twitter on Sunday. The new government we helped set up controls nearly no territory outside a couple of cities and the Taliban will wreck them the moment we're gone. I know the history too of Camp David, indeed President Trump reflected on that.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has scheduled appearances on five political talk shows on Sunday.

In a responding statement, the Afghan Taliban said the United States "will be harmed more than anyone" but left the door open for future negotiations.

Military and intelligence officials cited by the New York Times said that the American forces are chiefly there to provide intelligence to the Afghans.

The announcement by tweet appears abruptly to end, at least for now, a painstaking diplomatic process led for almost a year by Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born veteran United States diplomat who held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, usually in Qatar. Civilians have suffered more than anyone in what was the world's deadliest war in 2018.

According to parts of the draft deal that had been made public, the Pentagon would pull about 5,000 of the roughly 13,000 U.S. troops from five bases across Afghanistan by early next year.

Trump said his administration is "looking at" whether to proceed with troop reductions that had been one element of the preliminary deal with the Taliban struck by presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

"Unbeknownst to nearly everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday", Trump tweeted. But he cancelled the secret meeting at his Camp David retreat after the militants admitted they were behind a recent attack that killed a United States soldier.

Trump's tweet, however, stated that separate secret meetings had been in the works with Taliban leaders and with Ghani and his senior aides.

"They thought they had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position".

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