US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday warned the Taliban against attacks on Americans, amid outrage over alleged Russian bounties to target US troops, according to the State Department.
On Monday, in a telephonic conversation with Taliban negotiator Mullah Baradar, Pompeo “made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans”, the statement further said.
According to the US officials, the Taliban has abided by terms not to attack the US-led coalition.
But it has kept up violence against Afghan government forces, casting a cloud over attempts to start talks between the two sides on a peace settlement.
The US-Taliban deal signed in Qatar on February 29 calls for the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners to open the way for intra-Afghan negotiations.
Earlier, the Taliban provided an account of the call, saying that Baradar told Pompeo that the guerrillas “do not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against the US and other countries.”
It was not clear which Russian-linked group or entity was making the offer, if the Taliban had accepted or whether the bounties were linked to any attacks on US troops, according to the source.
Washington has been rattled by reports, initially in The New York Times, that Trump was briefed over US intelligence that a Russian spy unit had offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill US troops.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on whether the White House had received intelligence about the potential Russian bounties in early 2019.
(With inputs from agency)