Trump: I called off secret meeting with Taliban in U.S. over Kabul blast
"Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations."
"What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse! If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight?"
Context: Trump was referring to a suicide car bombing in Kabul that killed an American soldier, a Romanian service member and 10 civilians on Thursday. The bombing was the second attack by the group that week.
- Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump's special envoy for Afghanistan, said Monday that the U.S. and the Taliban had struck an "in principle" agreement that would see 5,400 troops leave Afghanistan, in the first sign of a breakthrough in peace talks between the 2 sides.
Trump has faced significant skepticism from people including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton and several lawmakers about whether the peace deal being negotiated was strong enough for the U.S. to sign.
What they're saying: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Trump had made a "great decision" to cancel the meeting as "we’re dealing with a terrorist group who are responsible for destroying statues of other religions, denying young girls a chance to go to school, brutalizing women and inviting al-Qaeda to reside in Afghanistan as the Taliban’s honored guest."
- "We should hit them back hard militarily," he said.
"I will never support a deal where the U.S. gives in to the Taliban’s demands for the U.S. to completely withdraw from Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and ISIS represent a threat to our homeland and I do not trust the Taliban to deal with these threats."— Sen. Lindsey Graham statement to Axios
The big picture: Graham told Axios' Jonathan Swan in August that he’d told Trump it would be a huge mistake, substantively and politically, to withdraw all U.S. military members from Afghanistan by the 2020 election.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.