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Trump calls off secret summit with Taleban at Camp David

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he had called off a secret summit with the Taleban and Afghanistan's leader, abruptly slamming the door on a year of diplomacy to end America's longest war.

Mr Trump said he had planned unprecedented, albeit separate, talks with the two sides in Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but the Taleban's persistent, grisly campaign of violence made them untrustworthy partners.

"Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taleban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday," Mr Trump said in a tweet.

"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. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn't, they only made it worse."

A US soldier and another service member from Romania were killed in the car bombing last Thursday in Kabul - the latest major attack claimed by the Taleban.

Washington was jolted by the announcement from Mr Trump, whose Twitter pronouncements have come into question.

"The idea that Trump was planning to host Taleban leaders at Camp David is a rather big surprise," said Ms Laurel Miller, who had been the US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan until early in the Trump administration.

"Why a lethal attack in Kabul on Thursday would be the reason for calling it off, considering the multiple recent Taleban attacks, is unclear," Ms Miller, now the Asia director of the International Crisis Group, said.

The announcement by tweet appears to end, at least for now, a painstaking diplomatic process led for nearly a year by Mr Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born veteran US diplomat who held nine rounds of talks with the Taleban, usually in Qatar.- AFP

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