At Doha, Pompeo meets, Afghan, Taliban negotiators
Washington, Nov 23: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met negotiators from the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, amidst signs of progress in their stalled talks and an uptick in violence that threatens to jeopardise the peace push in the war-torn country.
This was the first meeting of the top American diplomat with the Taliban and the Afghans representatives after the US' recent announcement that it will reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 each by January 15 next year.
The US currently has a little over 4,500 troops in Afghanistan.
"Met with both Taliban and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's negotiating teams in Doha. I commend both sides for continuing to negotiate and for the progress they have made. I encourage expedited discussions on a political roadmap and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire," Pompeo said in tweet on Saturday.
Pompeo met today with Taliban Political Deputy and Head of the Political Office Mullah Beradar and members of the Taliban negotiating team, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown said.
During the meeting, Pompeo commended both sides for continuing to negotiate and for the progress they have made, he said.
In his meeting with the Taliban, Pompeo commended both sides for continuing to negotiate and for the progress they have made. He called for a significant reduction in violence and encouraged expedited discussions on a political roadmap and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
"Pompeo and the negotiators discussed ways to reduce violence, and he encouraged expedited discussions on a political roadmap and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire," Brown said.
Pompeo reiterated that the people of Afghanistan expect and deserve to live in peace and security after 40 years of war and bloodshed, he said, adding that the US Secretary of State also meet with Qatari Foreign Minister Al Thani in Doha and discuss bilateral and regional issues
"We appreciate Qatar's ongoing support as a host to the Afghan peace negotiations. A united Gulf remains crucial for countering Iran's malign influence in the region," Pompeo said in another tweet.
The US signed an agreement with the Taliban in February to promote a negotiated end to the protracted conflict. Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have been meeting in Doha on a regular basis to try to broker a peace deal but have yet to yield any major breakthrough.
Meanwhile, violence in Afghanistan has spiked in recent months.
Pompeo's visit came in the wake of a rocket attack which struck densely populated areas of Kabul, killing at least eight people in the latest outbreak of violence in the Afghan capital.