US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said that the country was cutting $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan, voicing disappointment that rival leaders pressed by him on a visit failed to form an inclusive government.
Mike Pompeo said in a statement after his talks in Kabul with President Ashraf Ghani and Ghani’s rival Abdullah Abdullah, “The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests,”
“Their failure has harmed US-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country”, Pompeo further added.
The US S was immediately reducing $1 billion in aid and would pull another $1 billion in 2021.
The Afghan government and the Taliban on Sunday held their first discussion on arranging prisoner exchanges, a key step in a broader push for peace, the US special envoy for Afghanistan said on Twitter. “Today, the US and Qatar facilitated the first Afghan government to Taliban technical talks on prisoner releases, via Skype video conferencing,” Zalmay Khalilzad said.
The agreement, signed by Khalilzad and a senior Taliban official on February 29 in Doha, established a framework for bringing to an end America’s longest war, begun after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
It called notably for the liberation of up to 5,000 Taliban fighters held by Kabul, and up to 1,000 members of the Afghan government forces in insurgent hands.
The Doha accord also calls for the gradual withdrawal of American and other foreign troops over a 14-month period — the singular focus of the US diplomatic efforts. The first phase of that withdrawal has already begun.
In exchange, the Taliban committed to continue fighting against terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and promised to negotiate for the first time with Kabul.
More than 10,000 civilians were killed or wounded in Afghanistan’s war last year, the United Nations announced Saturday, as a historic partial truce kicked in across the country. India did not recognise Afghanistan diplomatically when Taliban was ruling the country from 1996 to 2002.