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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday responded to backlash over the news that President Trump had invited the Taliban to Camp David for secret Afghanistan peace talks, arguing on ABC News' "This Week": "If you're going to negotiate peace, you often have to deal with some pretty bad actors."

"I know the history, too, at Camp David. Indeed, President Trump reflected on that — we all considered when debating how to try and get to the right ultimate outcome. Well, there have often been discussions about war at Camp David. There have been discussions about peace there as well. There have been some been pretty bad actors travel through that place throughout recorded history. It's an important place. It's a place where we thought we could convince all the leaders of Afghanistan — President Ghani and his team, as well as the Taliban — we could convince them to begin to head in a direction that would create better conditions on the ground in Afghanistan not only for the Afghans, but better security for the American people as well."

Context: Trump tweeted on Saturday night that he had called off the secret meeting after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing in Kabul that killed an American soldier, a Romanian service member and 10 civilians on Thursday.

  • The idea that a militant group the U.S. has been fighting against for years would be invited to the presidential retreat at Camp David — and on the week of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks — sparked anger from both Republicans and Democrats.

What they're saying:

  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.): "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."
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.): 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. No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever. The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda. The President is right to end the talks."
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.): "To me, this is just no way to conduct foreign policy. Yes, we should be negotiating with the Afghan government, and we should be negotiating with the Taliban to try to end the bloodshed in this country, which has been going on for decades. ... This isn’t a game show, these are terrorists."

The big picture: Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump's special envoy for Afghanistan, said last week that the U.S. and the Taliban had struck an "in principle" agreement that would see 5,400 troops leave Afghanistan — the first sign of a breakthrough in peace talks between the 2 sides.

  • Pompeo said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the U.S. is still interested in a peace deal, but that the Taliban must agree to preconditions such as "certain reductions in violence" and breaking with al-Qaeda.
  • The Taliban said Sunday that Trump's decision to abruptly end peace talks will cost more American lives, Reuters reports.

Go deeper

43 mins ago - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.

Court rejects Trump campaign's appeal in Pennsylvania case

Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday unanimously rejected the Trump campaign's emergency appeal seeking to file a new lawsuit against Pennsylvania's election results, writing in a blistering ruling that the campaign's "claims have no merit."

Why it matters: It's another devastating blow to President Trump's sinking efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pennsylvania, which President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, certified its results last week and is expected to award 20 electoral votes to Biden on Dec. 12.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.