Trump abruptly cancels Afghan peace deal with Taliban

US President Donald Trump says he has called off peace negotiations with the Taliban that sought to end America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan.

Mr Trump tweeted he had been set to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and senior Taliban leaders on Sunday.

But he cancelled the secret meeting at his Camp David retreat after the militants admitted they were behind a recent attack that killed a US soldier.

The talks were due to take place a few days before the anniversary of 9/11.

The US invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban in the autumn of 2001, because the militants had given safe haven to the al-Qaeda network to plan the attacks on the US on 11 September.

A source from the Taliban’s political office in Doha told the BBC that the group was set to hold an “urgent internal meeting” to discuss Mr Trump’s decision.

Meanwhile the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani – who would have met separately with Mr Trump at Camp David, according to the US president – said real peace would only be possible when the Taliban agreed to a ceasefire and direct talks with the Afghan government.

How surprising is this news?

A face-to-face meeting with the Taliban at Camp David – the site of past historic peace negotiations – would have been an extraordinary diplomatic move by the US president, especially as it would have come just ahead of the 18th anniversary of 9/11,

The top US negotiator had announced a peace deal “in principle” on Monday.

It was the result of nine rounds of talks between the US and Taliban representatives, held in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar.

But Mr Trump’s tweets on Saturday evening appeared to put an end to nearly a year of painstaking negotiations which had excluded the Afghan government in Kabul, dismissed by the Taliban as American puppets.

“Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, [the Taliban] admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers,” the president tweeted.

“I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”

As part of the proposed deal, the US would have withdrawn 5,400 troops within 20 weeks, in return for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would never again be used as a base for terrorism.

The US currently has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan