On Monday, during a surprise visit to Afghanistan, United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo vowed support for President Ashraf Ghani’s bid to start peace talks with the Taliban and repeated the United States would be willing to take part.
The visit, at the end of a tour of Asian countries including North Korea and Vietnam, was Pompeo’s first to Afghanistan since he became Secretary of State in April.
He said the strategy announced last year by President Donald Trump of sending more troops to increase pressure on the Taliban and push them towards negotiations was working and would reassure Afghans “that we will support them as they continue fighting to liberate their country and their people.”
“The strategy sends a clear message to the Taliban that they cannot wait us out,” he said.
Standing with him at a news conference in the presidential palace in Kabul, Ghani, who earlier this year offered peace talks without preconditions, said it would be necessary to move with caution.
“If we think only in one day a 40 year-crisis can be ended we are being unrealistic,” he said.
“An American role will be important in this, but we can’t run the peace talks, we can’t settle this from the outside,” he said.
Pompeo said he hoped for a reduction in violence before the elections, which the Taliban have refused to support. “We’re counting on all the actors in the region to be supportive of that,” he said.