22:37 GMT26 January 2020
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    The Taliban warned on Sunday that more Americans will die after US President Donald Trump cancelled secret peace talks with the group’s leaders over the weekend.

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a Twitter statement that America's “credibility will be effected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase,” reacting to Trump’s decision to call off negotiations.

    Trump was due to hold a meeting with the Taliban's leaders and Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday at Camp David, the presidential country retreat, but scrapped these plans at the last minute after the militant group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul last week that left an American soldier and 11 others dead.

    “If they (the Taliban) 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,” Trump tweeted, criticising the group.

    ​“I do not see President Trump's tweets as an end to Washington's negotiations with the Taliban,” says Aimal Faizi, a journalist and columnist, who served as the spokesperson of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    “Ahead of 2020 US elections, President Trump still wants a political deal with the Taliban in order to reduce a significant number of troops with an agreed timeline on total US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The fact that one US soldier has been killed in Kabul is certainly not the reason for which the US president would call off long and costly negotiations with the Taliban.”

    Faizi also pointed out that the violence in Afghanistan is not one-sided or solely initiated by the Taliban, as US troops and Afghan government forces are also responsible for their share of bloodshed.

    “Various reports suggest that US and Afghan forces have killed more civilians than the Taliban and other violent armed groups. Therefore, I believe there are other domestic reasons (in Washington) that have made the US president send a few tweets.”

    According to Faizi, Trump is under pressure from the US military-industrial complex and other warmongers in Washington and that they made the US leader call off the secret talks:

    “Since the beginning, the US military-industrial complex and Pentagon- controlled government, under President Ghani in Kabul, have been against all kinds of peace negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. They have been doing everything to prolong the US war in Afghanistan. They have been busy making new designs to destabilise Afghanistan and the region. The growth of ISIS or Daesh in Afghanistan under US/NATO intelligence's nose is a clear sign of Washington's double-standards in its so-called 'war on terror',” Karzai’s former spokesman stressed.

    On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while making appearances on several US TV shows, said that peace negotiations with Afghanistan’s Taliban “for the time being” are off. He also told NBC, Fox News and CNN that the US has recalled Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad back to Washington.

    “Negotiations have been aimed at reducing violence and getting the Afghans for the first time in 15 years to actually sit at the table together and talk about a path forward in a more peaceful way,” Pompeo added, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press.

    He also promised that Washington would not reduce US military support for Afghan troops until it was convinced the Taliban could follow through on its “significant commitments”.

    But Himat Khan, an analyst and journalist based in Afghanistan, believes that the Taliban leaders would have wanted to sign a deal in Qatar or a third country prior to traveling to the US: “It is the negotiation rule and Afghanistan culture that one never goes to his enemy's house unless there is a peace agreement.”

    Mr. Khan also said that the Trump administration invited President Ashraf Ghani to Camp David to show to the world that it had managed to get both parties to agree to hold talks with each other, while US is just a mediator and is “pretending” that “the main fight and problem of the Taliban was with Ghani government, and the US is playing the role of peacekeeper in Afghanistan, which is absolutely incorrect. The US invader forces in Afghanistan are the real problem and cause of this longest war in the history of the US.”

    At the beginning of the month, after nine rounds of talks held in Qatar, US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said that the US and Taliban have reached an “agreement in principle”.

    Under the deal, the Taliban would guarantee that it will not allow foreign armed groups and fighters to use Afghanistan to conduct attacks outside the country, while the US would withdraw its troops after 18 years of fighting.

    Shreyas D. Deshmukh, a research associate at the Delhi Policy Group, in his turn, believes, that the US-led peace process has so far generated less optimism and more pessimism within Afghanistan, in the region and in the US as well, because the fighting continued and the negotiations were rushed:

    “The proper ground for the peace talks was not created as the Taliban is continuing its attacks all over Afghanistan and 15 American troops lost their lives (over the last year), also, the Afghans' establishment and politicians have not taken in the confidence,” Deshmukh said.

    Mr. Faizi noted that other regional players must be involved in the peace process:

    “Responsible countries in the region, such as Russia, have growing stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, Moscow should remain strongly involved in the resolution of this foreign-imposed war in Afghanistan. It should continue to engage the Afghan Taliban and actively support the intra-Afghan dialogue,” Faizi concluded.

    News of Trump’s scrapped negotiations sparked criticism in the US among Democrat and Republican lawmakers. Both argued that Taliban members should “NEVER” be allowed onto US soil.

    ​The timing of the talks was also questioned, as they were scheduled to take place just days before the 18th anniversary of the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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