Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Top US, Pakistan military officials discuss Afghanistan, Kashmir

Top US, Pakistan military officials discuss Afghanistan, Kashmir

On Sept. 7, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to declare he was calling off a secret summit at Camp David that would have involved meetings with the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to secure a peace deal in Afghanistan. On Sunday Pompeo suggested on "Meet the Press" that there would be no USA withdrawal unless the violence in Afghanistan was reduced and the US could be assured that the country wouldn't again serve as the staging ground for a terrorist attack on the U.S.

While many Afghans appear to lack faith in the goodwill of the insurgents, they also mourned the loss of a chance for peace after the cancelation of the U.S. -Taliban talks.

As Stars and Stripes reported, on Sunday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that the Trump administration had recalled envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been negotiating with the Taliban leaders. Then, U.S. officials hoped, the Taliban would enter direct negotiations with the government in Kabul on a political settlement - one that ideally would commit the Taliban, as a condition of sharing power, to respecting the advancements in women's rights that have been achieved since it was driven from power. They didn't think the Taliban can be trusted.

On Saturday, Trump abruptly cancelled a secret meeting planned for the following day with Taliban leaders and the Afghan president at the Camp David retreat in Maryland. "When they did that they killed 12 people", Trump said. 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.

An unidentified official from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which maintains a force of about 16,000 troops in Afghanistan, told AFP on September 9 that its focus "remains unchanged" in the wake of Trump's decision to cancel the secret meeting.

The president called the Taliban attacks "a big mistake".

The Defense Department says Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, was killed in action when the explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, was the fourth US service member killed in the past two weeks in Afghanistan.

In a thread of tweets explaining his decision to cancel the meeting, Trump wrote, "if they can not 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".

'But right now they're murdering too many people'.

During a visit to Afghanistan on September 9, U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, indicated to reporters that the United States was likely to increase operations against the Taliban. More than that, however, Trump also declared an abrupt end to a year's worth of U.S. -Taliban negotiations - citing continuing violence from the Taliban, including a September 5 attack that killed a U.S. service member and at least 11 others.

And the Afghan government has objected both to the terms of a possible agreement and to how it was negotiated with the Taliban.

Mr Trump has been talking of a need to withdraw USA troops from the "endless war" in Afghanistan since his 2016 presidential campaign, and he said in a tweet on Monday: "We have been serving as policemen in Afghanistan, and that was not meant to be the job of our Great Soldiers, the finest on earth". The Taliban said the USA president's words had damaged his credibility, and they have warned of more American deaths.

Top military officials of Pakistan and the United States on Monday discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

"The Taliban do not speak honestly", said Fakhri, who fled his home in the district of Jurm, southeast of the Badakhshan's provincial capital, Fayzabad, five years ago when the militant group began fighting there. US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad last week said his team had written a draft agreement. 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. "Hopefully it can be brought back on track because there's no better alternative", Miller said.

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