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Afghans cautiously welcome halt to secret US-Taliban summit

KABUL: President Donald Trump's announcement that he had called off negotiations with the Taliban, apparently ending

Sep 08 2019

KABUL: President Donald Trump's announcement that he had called off negotiations with the Taliban, apparently ending a year-long diplomatic push to exit America's longest war, has left the withdrawal deal shrouded in uncertainty.

But in the streets of Kabul on Sunday, some residents expressed their satisfaction at Trump's move.

"It is good that the talks have been cancelled, there should be intra-Afghan talks, and people should be involved in it, and they should be informed about it," 52-year-old Mir Dil told AFP.

If the Taliban "had accepted peace, they should have announced a ceasefire and then the talks should have moved forward," he added.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office cautiously saluted the "sincere efforts of its allies" after Trump tweeted that he had cancelled unprecedented -- albeit separate -- meetings with the Taliban and Ghani at Camp David.

The presidency also "insisted that a real peace can only be achieved if the Taliban stop killing Afghans and accept a ceasefire, and face-to-face talks with the Afghan government", according to a statement.

Trump's announcement that he would "call off peace negotiations" appears to abruptly end, at least for now, a painstaking and nearly year-long diplomatic process led by veteran US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, mostly in Qatar.

Many Afghans had expressed deep unease throughout the talks, from which their internationally recognised government has been excluded, seeing them as a beaten America selling out in a bid to escape Afghanistan after 18 years of gruelling war.

"It was a good opportunity for (the Taliban) but it was wasted because they did not stop attacks," 22-year-old Ahmad Jawed told AFP.

"I'm personally happy that the US-Taliban talks have collapsed," said 24-year-old shopkeeper Hamid Akbari.

"If the Taliban come back in some form, the country will go backwards, and Afghanistan will be isolated again," he added.

Kabul resident Yama Safdari, 24, regretted that it took the death of one American to stop the process "while so many Afghan army forces and civilians are killed on a daily basis".

"They do not think about that," she added.

Many Afghans welcomed the decision on social media.

"At least for the first time the Taliban might feel regret for their attacks and killing innocent people," wrote Facebook user Iqbal Ahmad.