US President Donald Trump calls off Afghanistan peace talks

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By Dennis Romero  with NBC News World News
President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One to depart from the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 30, 2019.   -   Copyright  Mandel Ngan

US President Donald Trump said Saturday he's calling off "peace negotiations" with Taliban leadership after a U.S. service member was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Trump tweeted that he was scheduled to hold a secret meeting with Taliban leadership and, separately, the president of Afghanistan, Sunday at Camp David. The United States has been working on a deal to pull troops out of the country that harboured 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and, in the process, end the nation's longest war.

"I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations," Trump tweeted. "What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?"

The Kabul attack killed 12, including a Romanian soldier, and injured 42. The Taliban took credit.

"If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don't have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway," Trump tweeted.

The Taliban controls or heavily influences about half the country, and some U.S. officials fear it could invade the other regions.

About 2,400 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan. There are still about 14,000 U.S. troops in the nation. The U.S. was negotiating with Taliban leaders to withdraw 5,000 troops initially.

Negotiations recently hit a snag over American insistence that the Taliban pledge not to allow areas under its control to be used by global terrorists. The Taliban has subsequently stepped up its campaign of violence in Afghanistan.