Trump criticized for planning secret Camp David meeting with Taliban days before 9/11 anniversary
AP Top Stories September 9 WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is facing backlash after announcing he planned to hold a secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David this weekend but canceled it over attacks overseas that left 12 dead, including one American.Republican and Democratic leaders sharply criticized the president over two main concerns: bringing members of the Taliban to the U.S.—specifically to Camp David, a presidential retreat for presidents used for administrations, and the timing of the meeting — just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.The Trump administration and leaders of the Taliban, an extremist Islamic organization that controls about half of Afghanistan, have been in peace talks for months and closing in on a possible deal that would remove about 5,000 American troops from five bases over the next five months if the Taliban fulfills promises to reduce violence and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists.More: Donald Trump’s secretary of state says Afghanistan talks are dead ‘for now’More: Trump suspends Afghanistan peace talks after attack, cancels secret Camp David meetingThe president revealed plans to host Taliban leaders on Twitter Saturday evening, explaining that it was canceled and all peace talks were off after the group claimed responsibility for a car bomb this week that killed an American and 11 others.But the news that a meeting was planned drew criticism as skeptics have said the Taliban, itself a militant Islamic group that harbored Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda —which carried out the 9/11 attacks — cannot be trusted. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle vented their frustrations.Liz Cheney@Liz_Cheney Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever. The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda.The President is right to end the talks
Trump denies knowledge of Air Force resort stays: ‘Nothing to do with me’
President Trump on Monday denied any knowledge of military and government personnel using (and paying for) overnight stays at his Turnberry resort in Scotland after the Air Force ordered an investigation of the practice, which was disclosed Friday by Politico.
“I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME,” tweeted Trump.
The aircraft, carrying supplies to the Middle East, stopped in Scotland both en route and on its return leg, and the five-person crew stayed at Turnberry both nights. Military flights to and from the Middle East more commonly stop for refueling and rest at American bases in Germany or elsewhere in Europe.
While Trump referred to one plane in his tweet, the Air Force probe involves allegations of multiple instances of stopovers at the lightly used Prestwick Airport and overnight stays at Trump’s property, around 23 miles away. Over the past several months, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland, raising questions about a conflict of interest. The property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. Politico reporters Natasha Bertrand and Bryan Bender raised the possibility that Trump is trying to keep Prestwick in business and the resort afloat.
I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME
Questions have been raised about the resort’s partnership with Prestwick Airport, where a C-17 military transport plane had stopped earlier this year to refuel. The Pentagon has spent $11 million on fuel at the airport since October 2017, according to a House Oversight Committee letter, while it is cheaper to refuel at a U.S. military base.
According to the New York Times, “the Defense Department signed an agreement with the Prestwick airport to serve as a refueling location for military flights in August 2016, during the final months of the Obama administration.” But last year, the Pentagon and the Scottish government sought out a contract to help increase revenue at the airport, according to the Guardian.
Trump also said he “had nothing to do with the decision” of Vice President Mike Pence to stay at a Trump hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland, about 180 miles from his meetings during an official visit in Dublin.
“Mike’s family has lived in Doonbeg for many years, and he thought that during his very busy European visit, he would stop and see his family!” Trump tweeted.
But last Wednesday, a top aide for the vice president said Trump had offered “a suggestion” for Pence to stay at his property, contradicting the president’s earlier denial that he “had no involvement” in the idea for Pence to stay at his Irish golf resort.
I had nothing to do with the decision of our great @VP Mike Pence to stay overnight at one of the Trump owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland. Mike’s family has lived in Doonbeg for many years, and he thought that during his very busy European visit, he would stop and see his family!
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told reporters that Trump did suggest the vice president stay at the Trump International at Doonbeg. The vice president flew back and forth on Air Force Two for his meetings in Dublin.
“I don’t think it was a request, like a command. I think that it was a suggestion,” said Short. “It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”
The initial reasoning for staying there, provided by Short, was security: The club is “the size that … we think can accommodate us, and Secret Service can protect us,” and it is “a facility that could accommodate the team.”
But Pence’s staff changed its explanation after Politico reported that many veterans of the Secret Service protective detail said the logistical issues were irrelevant, and offered that the vice president was staying at the club because it was close to his ancestral home. His great-grandmother had lived there, next door to a castle.
U.S. military likely to ramp up operations against Taliban: U.S. general
By Phil Stewart
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Reuters) – The U.S. military is likely to accelerate the pace of its operations in Afghanistan to counter an increase in Taliban attacks, a senior U.S. general said on Monday following Washington’s suspension of peace talks with the insurgents.
U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said during a visit to Afghanistan that the Taliban overplayed its hand in peace negotiations by carrying out a spate of high-profile attacks, including one that killed a U.S. soldier last week.
The Taliban, which controls more territory than at any time since 2001 when it governed the country, said on Sunday that more American lives https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan/more-americans-will-die-after-trump-abruptly-ends-afghan-talks-taliban-say-idUSKCN1VT05L would be lost.
McKenzie declined to comment on the Taliban statement. But he noted that U.S. troops in Afghanistan were hardly „defenseless.”
„We’re certainly not going to sit still and let them carry out some self-described race to victory. That’s not going to happen,” McKenzie told a group of reporters traveling with him during a stop at Bagram Airfield in northeastern Afghanistan.
Air strikes by U.S-led international forces and Afghanistan’s small air force already are at a high level – a Sept. 3 United Nations report said there had been 506 between May 10 and Aug. 8, a 57 percent increase from the same period in 2018.
Asked whether increasing operations against the Taliban could include air strikes and raids by U.S. and Afghan commandos, McKenzie responded: „I think we’re talking a total spectrum.”
„And, again, whatever targets are available, whatever targets can be lawfully and ethically struck, I think we’re going to pursue those targets,” he said.
Any increase in U.S. military action would correspond to an acceleration of Taliban attacks, McKenzie said.
The insurgents’ determination to step up both attacks on provincial centers and suicide bombings even as discussions were taking place was a major factor in pushing U.S. President Donald Trump to announce on Saturday that he was canceling https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-pompeo/afghan-peace-talks-dead-u-s-to-keep-pressure-on-taliban-pompeo-idUSKCN1VT0GU peace talks aimed at ending America’s longest war of 18 years.
An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Sgt. 1st Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, Ortiz was killed in action Sept. 5, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ortiz was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — With a series of tweets, President Donald Trump has upended nearly a year of U.S.-Taliban negotiations on ending America’s longest war. He has „called off” the talks and asserted that a planned secret meeting between him and Taliban leaders at Camp David, set for Sunday just days before the 9/11 anniversary, is now canceled. Some question whether it was a face-saving attempt after the deal his envoy said had been reached „in principle” faced serious challenges.The Taliban took half a day to respond, saying the abrupt decision hurt U.S. credibility after they had „finalized” a deal, but said the U.S. likely would return to negotiations. The two sides had still been talking on Saturday, they said — two days after Trump said he had „immediately” called off talks.Here’s a look at the push for a deal that Trump had wanted quickly, calling it „ridiculous” that the U.S. was still in Afghanistan after nearly 18 years and billions of dollars spent.The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with a harsh version of Islamic law from 1996 to 2001 and hosted Osama bin Laden as he masterminded the 9/11 attacks, say they no longer seek a monopoly on power. But the militant group now controls or holds sway over roughly half of the country. Many fear a full withdrawal of some 20,000 NATO troops would leave the weak and corrupt Afghan government vulnerable to collapse, or unleash another round of fighting in a war that has killed tens of thousands.A DEAL WITH FEW DETAILS The talks between Afghan-born U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban leaders in Qatar, where the insurgent group has a political office, have been so closely guarded that last week Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was shown — not given — the final draft. The Afghan government has been sidelined because the Taliban refuse to negotiate with what they call a U.S. puppet.The Taliban negotiators have been led by Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s founders who was released by Pakistan last year after eight years in prison, apparently upon a U.S. request. He is believed to command enough respect to sell a deal to tens of thousands of fighters.The deal once final would begin a U.S. troop withdrawal with the first 5,000 leaving within 135 days, Khalilzad announced on Monday. That would leave 8,600 troops who train and support Afghan forces after their combat role ended in 2014. In return, the Taliban would guarantee that Afghanistan would not be a launching pad for global terror attacks by groups including a local affiliate of the Islamic State organization and the remains of al-Qaida.
Iranian tanker reaches destination, oil sold: ministry tells TV
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Sunday said an Iranian oil tanker at the center of a dispute between Tehran and Western powers had reached its destination and sold its oil, state television reported.
„The tanker has gone to its destination, the oil has been sold,” spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the television station without disclosing whether the crude oil had been delivered.
The tanker Adrian Darya 1, which went dark off Syria last week, has been photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by David Goodman)