Updated Sep 8, 2019

Trump: I called off secret meeting with Taliban in U.S. over Kabul blast

President Trump at the White House, Sept. 4. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's called off a secret meeting with Taliban leaders planned for Sunday at Camp David after a bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"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.

Go deeper: Afghanistan peace talks: U.S. pushes toward "face-saving way out"

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.