• publish: 11 September 2020
  • time: 7:49 pm
  • category: Politics
  • No: 15279

Pompeo: Full US troop withdrawal will depend on Taliban’s level of commitment

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said American troop levels in Afghanistan would depend on the Taliban upholding its commitments with the US regardless of the outcome of domestic peace talks set to start in Doha on Saturday.

Speaking to journalists while on his way to Qatar, Pompeo said: “There are a series of commitments that the Taliban have made, we have every expectation that they will follow through on them.”

He said the US’s commitment to reducing troops to zero is on condition the Taliban execute their obligations under the agreement. 

He would not however say whether the Trump administration would wait for a peace deal before withdrawing all troops. 

In February, the US and the Taliban reached a deal to kickstart peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. 

Peace talks were due to start in March but were repeatedly delayed mostly due to the issue around the Taliban prisoner release process and the ongoing attacks by the Taliban. 

One commitment was a steady withdrawal of troops by the US, which have since February dropped from 13,000 to 8,600 and five military bases have been handed over to the Afghan National Army. 

This week, Trump announced a further troop withdrawal and said by November there would only be 4,500 US forces in Afghanistan. 

The deal between the Taliban and the US meanwhile stipulates that all US troops will be out of Afghanistan by spring next year but that the Taliban has to cut all ties with al-Qaeda. 

Despite the rise in attacks by the Taliban around the country and the increase in targeted assassinations, including the attempt this week on Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s life, for which the Taliban denied responsibility, Pompeo has hailed the US-led campaign “a tremendous success.”

In his chat to reporters, he said: “We can be proud of what we achieved but it’s time for the next step,” adding that his objectives were based on two demands from President Donald Trump: Draw down troops as quickly as possible while also maintaining American security.

Pompeo also said it was now the turn of Afghan leaders to control the fate of their country.

“I’m mindful of how difficult these conversations will be among the Afghans but it’s theirs for the taking,” Pompeo said.

“It’s their country to try to figure out how to move forward and make a better life for all the Afghan people.”

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