Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that peace negotiations with the Taliban are off indefinitely after the Islamist militia admitted responsibility for a recent attack in which a U.S. soldier died.
“For the time being that is absolutely the case,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press“ when asked whether the talks were off completely, following tweets last night from President Donald Trump saying he had canceled meetings with Taliban leaders and the Afghan president set to take place this weekend at Camp David — meetings that had not been previously announced.
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“I hope we get ’em started back,” Pompeo said on a segment on “Fox News Sunday“ that also aired Sunday morning. “It will ultimately be up to the Taliban. They have got to demonstrate that they’re prepared to do the things that we asked them to do in the course of those negotiations.”
The peace talks had been moving toward a “framework agreement” intended to lead to a broader peace process involving the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Trump’s cancellation follows nine rounds of talks over the past 10 months in Doha, Qatar, between Taliban representatives and a U.S. negotiating team led by Zalmay Khalilzad, who has now been recalled to Washington.
“We’ve been working on this problem set for a number of months now and frankly had made real progress with the Government of National Unity, President Ghani as well as the Taliban,” Pompeo said on NBC.
“We can never permit terror to strike again from Afghanistan here into the United States,” he said. “Our negotiations have been aimed at achieving each of those objectives while reducing violence and getting the Afghans for the first time … to actually sit at the table and talk about the path forward in a more peaceful way.”
Pompeo did, however, add: “In the last 10 days, we’ve killed over a thousand Taliban.“
Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, a paratrooper, was killed in an attack that Trump said killed 11 other people. The president said the Taliban admitted to the attack in an attempt to build “false leverage.”