US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in an interview to The Hill stated that the United States is committed to two main objectives in Afghanistan-a political solution to the Afghan conflict and preventing future terrorist attacks. “We need a broad coalition of non-Taliban Afghans to come together”, he added.
Pompeo emphasised the need for a broad coalition of non-Taliban Afghans to strengthen the Afghan peace process.
Asked how would America define victory in Afghanistan, he listed these two “necessary conditions” that Washington was trying to achieve there.
“What is winning? Are we winning in Afghanistan?” asked the interviewer, The Hill’s editor-in-chief Bob Cusack.
“We are working to achieve a reconciliation so that this conflict now coming on two decades can be resolved. We can take down the violence level, we can get a political outcome. That’s a necessary condition,” Pompeo responded.
He explained that the second necessary condition is that they continue to be able to perform their counter-terror operations.
However, Pompeo did not define victory, and he highlighted US efforts to promote the Afghan peace process.
“We’re working with partners and allies in the region, and we’re working with people that we have not worked within an awfully long time,” he said, adding that US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was already in the region trying to resume the US-Taliban talks.
This comes after US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad is in the region for another tour and began talks with Taliban in Doha on Wednesday.
Pompeo also underlined the need for combating those terrorist groups that are still operating in Afghanistan.
He said that ISIS in particular who are in Afghanistan too, along with Al Qaeda and other Sunni terror operations in Afghanistan are the groups to be looked at.
“We need President (Ashraf) Ghani to be successful so that we can ultimately get that political resolution,” he said.
The new emphasis on an intra-Afghan coalition reflects a hardening of attitude in Washington where policy makers want to ensure that the insurgents do not see their eagerness for peace as a sign of weakness.
“It will ultimately be up to the Afghan people to determine if this reconciliation can be successful,” Secretary Pompeo said.