The Taliban have hit back at President Donald Trump’s dramatic cancellation of an imminent Afghanistan peace agreement, suggesting his erratic diplomacy is damaging his credibility.

According to BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet, a Taliban spokesperson said Sunday that the president’s weekend tweets had come as a surprise to the group. Trump announced on Twitter on Saturday that he was shelving the peace deal following the killing of a U.S. soldier in Kabul last week.

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “They were coming to the United States tonight.”

However, following Thursday’s bombing, the president said he “immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” asking, “What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?”

Doucet cited Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, who reportedly said on Sunday that an agreement was reached between U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Qatar several days ago. He described Trump’s Twitter tirade as “astonishing” and suggested the messages had “certainly damaged his credibility.”

The White House is keen to find a way out of America’s longest ever war, which is nearing 18 years of age. Trump vowed to end U.S. involvement in unwinnable foreign wars during his presidential campaign, but has been hamstrung by the geopolitical realities of U.S. deployments in the Middle East and South Asia.

The deal reportedly agreed between U.S. and Taliban representatives is only the first step in bringing some semblance of peace to Afghanistan, where successive conflicts have been raging since 1978.

The agreement would have then led to direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which has been excluded from the initial discussions, which have constituted nine rounds of talks.

The deal would see the U.S. withdraw 5,400 of its 14,000 troops from the country within 20 weeks. In return, the Taliban would give guarantees that the country would never again be used as a base for terrorist groups to plan and launch attacks.

Another Taliban spokesperson warned on Sunday that Trump’s abandonment of the proposal would only result in more American deaths. Zabihullah Mujahid said Trump’s decision “will lead to more losses to the U.S….Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase.”


President Donald Trump is pictured before a meeting with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2017 in New York City.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images/Getty

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