Pompeo arrives for surprise meeting in Afghanistan
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (2-L) meets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/Ron Przysucha/HANDOUT US STATE DEPARTMENT
Kabul, Jun 25 (efe-epa).- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday arrived in Afghanistan for an unannounced meeting with President Ashraf Ghani ahead of the seventh round of negotiations with the Taliban.
“Great visit to #Afghanistan today with productive discussions on the #AfghanPeaceProcess and the need for credible elections with President @ashrafghani, CEO @afgexecutive, former President @KarzaiH, political parties, security forces & civil society, including women’s groups,” Pompeo tweeted.
In the meeting, both sides “comprehensively discussed improving capacity and offensives of the Afghan Defense and Security Forces, coordination of the bilateral relations, the peace process and Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential elections.”
“In the meeting, the US Secretary appreciated the increasing capacity and operations of the Afghan forces and added that Afghan security forces in recent months displayed their good ability in fight” against the Taliban.
Ghani, for his part, said that the “Afghan government and its International allies have already expressed their goodwill, commitment and readiness for finding a solution to the 40-year long crisis (war) of Afghanistan and now is the time for the Taliban and their supporters to show such commitment and intention (for peace).”
The Afghan president thanked the US’ efforts and added that “it will be better for the friendly countries and international allies (of Afghanistan) to avoid divided and unilateral efforts (in peace process)”.
He added that a well-coordinated and unified effort would garner the best results.
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in the same meeting said that all Afghans want lasting peace “but the peace should not be at the cost of the achievements of the past 18 years, which were gained with sacrifices of the Afghan people.”
Pompeo confirmed that “the United States is supporting the peace process and the upcoming presidential elections and is ready for cooperation in this regard.”
The meeting came days ahead of the seventh round of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar on Saturday.
From the offset, insurgents have refused to meet representatives of the Afghan government and have avoided discussing a ceasefire until an agreement on the removal of foreign armed forces is penned.
Both sides are hoping to put an end to nearly two decades of war.
A week ago Suhail Shaheen, Taliban spokesman, tweeted that the US had agreed to withdraw their troops.
Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department, denied the US had agreed to this.
The US Secretary of State has embarked on a tour that included Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, a trip that is to come to an end on June 30. EFE