The Latest: Mattis says trust is question in Taliban talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S. negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan (all times local):

12:35 p.m.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis says that when it comes to trying to negotiate an Afghanistan peace deal with the Taliban, the key question is whether they can be trusted.

Mattis cites past U.S. nuclear talks with the Russians, when the American side talked about “trust but verify.”

He tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “I think you want to verify, then trust” in dealing with the Taliban.

Mattis says the U.S. since the Bush administration, has “demanded that they break with al-Qaida” but “they’ve refused to do so.” He also says “we should never forget” that they were behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

President Donald Trump says he was set this weekend to meet at Camp David with leaders of the Taliban. But Trump says he called off that meeting, and a separate one with Afghanistan’s president, after a Taliban bombing that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.


12:20 p.m.

A Taliban spokesman contends that the insurgent group had finalized an Afghanistan peace deal with the United States and that both sides were satisfied.

Suhail Shaheen in a tweet says that the government of Qatar, where the talks have taken place, was going to announce the agreement — until President Donald Trump stepped in.

Shaheen says Trump’s tweets canceling a secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David and calling off negotiations have hurt U.S. credibility.

Trump cited a recent Taliban attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital, that killed an American soldier.

Officials in Qatar haven’t responded to a request for comment.


12:05 p.m

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY’-oh) says the Trump administration has recalled envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (ZAHL’-may kah-LEEL’-zahd), who has been negotiating with Taliban leaders for months in Qatar (KUH’-tur).

Pompeo says it’ll up to the insurgent group whether talks will resume.

President Donald Trump says he canceled negotiations with the Taliban in the wake of Thursday’s car bombing in the Afghan capital that killed an American soldier, a Romanian service member and 10 civilians in a busy diplomatic area near the U.S. Embassy.

And Trump called off secret Afghanistan peace talks planned for Camp David on Sunday.


9:05 a.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY’-oh) says the Taliban “overreached” with their car bomb attack in a diplomatic area near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, killing an American soldier — and that led President Donald Trump to pull back from planned Afghanistan peace talks at Camp David.

Pompeo says it’s now up to the Taliban to “change their behavior.” America’s top diplomat isn’t saying whether or when peace talks would resume.

Trump tweeted on Saturday night that he had canceled a secret meeting, planned for Sunday at the presidential retreat in Maryland, with Taliban and Afghan leaders, and called off talks with the insurgent group. He cited the Thursday attack.

Pompeo is appearing on five Sunday news shows.


5:30 a.m.

The Taliban say they believe that the U.S. will return to talks over a “finalized” deal to end America’s longest war despite President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to cancel secret meetings at Camp David with the insurgent group.

A statement by the insurgent group also says it had been ready to begin intra-Afghan talks on Afghanistan’s political future. The Taliban so far has refused to talk with the Afghan government, calling it a U.S. puppet.

The militants’ statement says the invitation to Camp David had been delivered in late August. Trump’s series of tweets said he had planned to meet separately with the Taliban and with the Afghan president.

Trump blamed the cancellation on the death of a U.S. service member in a Taliban attack in Kabul on Thursday, but critics point out that several U.S. soldiers had already been killed in the course of negotiations.


3:15 a.m.

The Afghan government says it doesn’t believe talks between the United States and Taliban will continue “at this stage” after President Donald Trump abruptly called them off.

Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Seddqi spoke to reporters hours after Trump in a series of tweets announced that he had canceled a secret meeting set for Sunday at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan leaders.

The surprise announcement came after a U.S.-Taliban deal that a U.S. envoy said had been reached “in principle” on ending America’s longest war faced growing criticism in Afghanistan and Washington.

The Afghan government has been sidelined in the talks, and the presidential spokesman is calling for an Afghan-led peace process in which the Taliban and government speak directly and there is a cease-fire.

Seddiqi would not say whether Trump’s abrupt decision has hurt peace efforts going forward.


9:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he was set this weekend to meet at Camp David with leaders of the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal in Afghanistan.

But Trump says he called off that meeting, and a separate one with Afghanistan’s president, after a Taliban bombing that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.

In a tweet Saturday evening, Trump questioned why the insurgent group thought a deadly bombing would improve their negotiating position.

The president has been under pressure from the Afghan government and some U.S. lawmakers who mistrust the Taliban and think it’s too early to withdraw American forces.

Trump has pledged to withdraw the remaining 13,000 to 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan and end U.S. involvement in a conflict that is closing in on 18 years.

Categories: National & International News