- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2019

President Trump on Monday said peace talks with the Taliban are “dead” after he called off what might have been a historic weekend meeting at the presidential retreat at Camp David.

“They’re dead. As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead,” he said.

His remarks to White House reporters leave critical decisions about the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan in the air, including whether the U.S. will withdraw troops planned.

“We’d like to get out, but we’ll get out at the right time,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump made headlines Saturday night by announcing that he’d scrapped the proposed meeting north of Washington, after learning of the bombing Thursday in Kabul that killed Sgt. 1st Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Puerto Rico, along with a Romanian soldier and at least 10 Afghan civilians.

Mr. Trump faced heat for even thinking about letting the Taliban step foot at Camp David ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, since they were accused of sheltering al Qaeda members who planned the attack.

Mr. Trump told reporters he did, however, refuse to hold the meeting at the White House, saying he thought “that would be a step too far.”

Over the weekend, the president blasted the Taliban for publicly boasting that a series of deadly attacks, which have killed dozens of civilians and three other U.S. service members over the past two weeks in Afghanistan, were increasing the group’s leverage at the negotiating table with Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the administration recalled Mr. Khalilzad, who’d been holding talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar for nearly a year.

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