Trump’s Deal With the Taliban Draws Fire From His Former Allies

Days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks two years ago, President Donald J. Trump had a novel idea. He would invite leaders of the Taliban, the group that harbored Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan as the founder of Al Qaeda plotted his strikes on America, to join peace negotiations at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

The notion of any presidential meeting with the Taliban, let alone one close to Sept. 11, stunned many of Mr. Trump’s top advisers. But Mr. Trump was eager to engage with the militant group, which the United States had been fighting for almost 20 years, as he pursued his goal of removing American troops from Afghanistan by the end of his term.

Months earlier, at Mr. Trump’s direction, the State Department had begun face-to-face talks with the Taliban in Qatar to negotiate an American exit. Mr. Trump called off the Taliban visit to Camp David after an American soldier was killed in a bombing in Kabul, the Afghan capital, but the peace talks continued.

They culminated in a February 2020 deal under which the United States agreed to withdraw in return for Taliban promises not to harbor terrorists and to engage in their first direct negotiations with the Afghan government. Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, attended the signing ceremony in Doha and posed for a photo alongside the Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, which resurfaced this week on social media. Mr. Baradar is widely expected to become the head of a new Taliban government based in Kabul.


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