Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. remains open to reaching a peace agreement with “conditions” with the Taliban after the cancellation of negotiations scheduled for Sunday, but stressed that he is not willing to “reward” them after the deadly attack in Kabul on Thursday.
“The point is that when the Taliban tried to gain an advantage in the negotiation by carrying out terrorist attacks inside the country, President (Donald) Trump made the right decision. There was no point in rewarding them for this kind of misbehavior,” Pompeo said in an interview on CNN.
“If the Taliban don’t behave, if they don’t comply, the U.S. president won’t reduce the pressure,” added the head of U.S. diplomacy.
Among what the Taliban had accepted, Pompeo said, were sitting down to negotiate with the Afghan government, achieving “some reduction in levels of violence” and breaking with Al Qaeda.
However, he stressed that “if these conditions are not met we will not enter into any agreement”.
Pompeo’s words come one day after Trump announced the suspension of a “secret” meeting with the Taliban and the Afghan government planned for Sunday in the US and the cancellation of the peace talks.
Trump justified the decision in a series of Twitter messages after the Taliban claimed a recent terrorist attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital, in which a dozen people died, including an American soldier.
“Without being known to almost anyone, the main Taliban leaders and, separately, the president of Afghanistan, were going to meet me secretly on Sunday at Camp David,” the president said Saturday, referring to the presidential rest home in Maryland outside Washington.
Trump said that “unfortunately, and with the aim of achieving false bargaining power, they admitted to an attack in Kabul,” in which one American soldier and 11 others were killed.
“I immediately cancelled the meeting and suspended the peace negotiations,” he said.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest conflict the United States has been involved in, where it has been present for more than 18 years and more than 2,300 Americans have lost their lives.