U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Monday, where he pushed for peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, The Associated Press reported.
Pompeo met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, where he reaffirmed the Trump administration’s support for peace talks that were “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.”
“The United States will support, facilitate and participate in these discussions,” Pompeo said to journalists, adding, “The region and the world are all tired of what are taking place here in the same way that the Afghan people are no longer interested in seeing war.”
Ghani had unilaterally extended a ceasefire with the Taliban, in the hopes of bringing them to the table. Ghani also wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on June 27 proclaiming that he would negotiate with the Taliban anywhere and at anytime.
“I accepted their demands, extended the government’s cease-fire for 10 more days and announced that I will sit and negotiate with the Taliban’s leader, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, anywhere he wants,” Ghani wrote.
However, the Taliban rejected pleas for a ceasefire extension from Afghan elders and peace activists in June and stepped up attacks, such as a suicide attack on a U.S. military convoy on July 2 that killed Afghan civilians.
Ghani praised the Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy. The administration’s strategy has been to send more troops and place pressure on Pakistan to do more to stop militants from crossing the border.
“Because of this strategy and the conditions-based nature of it, we, the members of the government, have been able to take bold steps outside the box and articulate an agenda of peace that is truly comprehensive and asks for engagement,” Ghani said Monday.
Pompeo stated his belief that the Taliban were “beginning to see that they cannot wait us out.”
The U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan for almost 17 years, the longest conflict in American history. Over 1,800 U.S. soldiers have been killed since 2001, according to ICasualties.
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