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Donald Trump calls off secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders.

President Donald Trump says he has called off a secret Camp David meeting with Taliban and Afghanistan leaders. On Saturday, the president tweeted that a meeting due to be held on Sunday has been cancelled because of a Taliban attack in Kabul on Thursday that killed 12 people, including a US soldier. The president tweeted that he "called off peace negotiations" and demanded to know who "would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position" in the negotiations. He added that if the Taliban would not agree to a cease-fire during the negotiations, "they probably don't have the power" to negotiate a peace deal. While there are multiple Taliban factions, not all of whom are open to a deal with the US, in 2018 the government and the insurgents agreed to a ceasefire to mark the Eid holiday -- the first such halt in fighting in 18 years of war. The pause was largely respected and hostilities halted. Taliban fighters came into the cities and pictures showed them greeting Afghan soldiers. While the government sought to replicate the agreement this year, the Taliban ruled it out. But many Americans on social media reacted with anger at the news the president was looking to sit down with the Taliban at Camp David on the same week as the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The war in Afghanistan was launched in response to the killing of 2,977 in September 2001 by Al Qaeda, the leadership of which was based largely in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban who were, at the time, in power. The past week has been bloody, with two Taliban car bombings in the capital of Kabul. It came after US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said that he and the insurgents had reached a deal "in principle" that would begin a US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban counterterror guarantees. Mr Khalilzad was in Kabul laying out the terms of the agreement to the government but then returned to Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office, on Thursday evening. The abrupt return to Doha came despite saying earlier in the week that the deal only needed Mr Trump's approval to finalise. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had planned to travel to Washington on Saturday for talks with Mr Trump but decided to postpone the visit. "Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless," Mr Ghani said after the bomb attack on Thursday. The Taliban have maintained a high number of deadly attacks to give them a stronger negotiating position in talks with the US and to pressure the government. The Taliban also kidnapped six Afghan journalists working for private and government media organisations in eastern Paktia province, government officials and Taliban said on Saturday. The reporters, working for radio and TV news companies that broadcast news in the Pashto and Dari languages, were abducted while travelling together from neighbouring Paktika province to Paktia to attend a media workshop on Friday. "We are trying to negotiate their release with the Taliban," said Abdullah Hasrat, a spokesman for Paktia's governor. A Taliban spokesman confirmed the abduction of six journalists by their fighters but said they will be released soon. "Yes, our mujahideen (fighters) have mistakenly kidnapped them," said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the hardline insurgent group. "Right now mobile services are not working, but they will be released as soon as we establish contact with the local commander," he said. Afghanistan was the deadliest country in the world to be a journalist in 2018, with 13 deaths according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The International Federation of Journalists said 16 journalists were killed last year. Nine were killed on a single day on April 30. In June, the Taliban issued a threat to Afghan media, saying journalists will be targeted unless news outlets stop broadcasting what they describe as government propaganda against the insurgents.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Sep 8, 2019
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