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US Lawmakers: Taliban Invitation to Camp David Was a Bad Idea

FILE - In this May 28, 2019 file photo, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader, third from left, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban ha
US Lawmakers: Taliban Invitation to Camp David Was a Bad Idea
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American President Donald Trump cancelled a planned meeting with Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David.

Trump said Ghani and the Taliban leaders had been planning to travel to the United States late Saturday.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Trump "made the right decision" to call off peace talks. Pompeo blamed the Taliban for continued attacks in Afghanistan.

Talks lacked congressional support

Lawmakers from both parties said the meeting at the presidential retreat near Washington should never have been planned.

"Camp David is where America's leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11," Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney tweeted. "No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever," she wrote.

Wednesday, September 11, will be the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the U.S. by terrorist hijackers in which nearly 3,000 people died.

Senator Bob Menendez is the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. He criticized the president saying, "It's another example of the Trump administration's foreign policy, which is a high-wire act… not in the strategic…effort of creating peace."

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger was an Air Force pilot who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before winning a seat in the House of Representatives. He said on Twitter, "Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn't renounced 9/11 and continue in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER."

Secretary Pompeo defended Trump's foreign policy, saying Trump's planned meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Ghani were planned to “further America's national interest." The goal of the meetings was to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The President was to have met with each group separately.

Negotiators for the U.S. and the Taliban have held peace talks for almost one year. U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad last week said his team had written a draft agreement. If approved by the president, it would call for 5,000 American soldiers to leave five military bases in Afghanistan within 135 days.

Pompeo said Khalilzad had been told to return to the United States.

The longest war in American history started with U.S. military efforts to destroy al-Qaida terrorist training grounds protected by the Taliban. Al-Qaida launched the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington. The fourth hijacked plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Trump said he decided to cancel the talks at Camp David after a car bomb in Kabul killed 12 people last week, including a U.S. soldier.

Trump has promised to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. But Pompeo said, "We're not going to just walk away, if it's not right for American security interests.”

The Taliban warned that U.S. military forces in Afghanistan "will suffer more than anyone else" from Trump's decision.

The Taliban also said the U.S.'s "casualties and financial losses will increase, and the U.S. role in international political interaction will be discredited even further."

The war in Afghanistan has continued for almost 18 years. About 2,400 American soldiers have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded in action.

The U.S. now has about 14,000 military members in Afghanistan although Trump has said he will reduce that number sharply.

Because of the cancellation, a peace agreement reached between the U.S. and the Taliban is now in question. The Taliban said it had agreed to hold talks with the Ghani government on September 23.

I’m Caty Weaver.

This story was written by VOANews. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.


Words in This Story

response– n. answer

high-wire– n. a rope or wire on which a performer walks and does tricks high up in the air to entertain people especially as part of a circus that is associated with risky behavior

strategicadj. of or relating to a general plan that is created to achieve a goal in war, politics, etc., usually over a long period of time

draft– adj. not final,

casualty– n. a person who is hurt or killed during a war, or accident