Sept. 8 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Saturday said he canceled a secret meeting with Afghan and Taliban officials at Camp David after the latter claimed responsibility for a suicide blast that killed a U.S. service member in Kabul.
The car bomb killed 12 people Thursday, including Romanian service members and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz. The attack came amid negotiations between the United States, Afghan government and the Taliban about the drawdown of U.S. troops from the country.
Trump indicated those negotiations, which included Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, were threatened by the suicide attack.
“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,” he said in a series of tweets.
“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?”
There are about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, 16 of whom have died since the beginning of 2019.
Last month, President Donald Trump announced plans to maintain a presence of 8,600 troops in Afghanistan in the midst of a large-scale withdrawal from the country.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the two sides were close to a deal that would have the United States and foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a commitment from the Taliban to not use the nation to launch terrorist attacks against the United States.
Full removal of troops from Afghanistan has faced criticism from some opponents who fear such a withdrawal could allow for a resurgence of terrorist groups in the country.