US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brushed off the government of Afghanistan saying they will not comply with a major provision of the peace deal the Trump administration is trying to set up with the Taliban.
Pompeo gave an interview to CBS’ Margaret Brennan on Sunday after returning from his trip to Doha where he signed a deal with Taliban leaders. As such, Brennan asked Pompeo if he trusts the Taliban to live up to their agreement to turn against al-Qaida, given their history.
“I don’t trust anything. We’re going to deliver,” Pompeo said. “The agreement set out the conditions, it set out the space, but no. This deal doesn’t depend upon trusting anyone. It has a deep, complex, well thought out multi-month negotiated verification complex and mechanism by which we can hold every member of the agreement accountable. It’s not about trust, it’s about what happens on the ground.”
Brennan moved on by noting that part of the deal says the U.S. will help facilitate the Taliban’s demand for 5,000 of their militants to be released from imprisonment in Afghanistan. The complication, however, is that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told reporters that “freeing Taliban prisoners is not [under] the authority of America, but the authority of the Afghan government. There has been no commitment for the release of 5,000 prisoners.”
“All of this is supposed to happen in the next ten days,” Brennan said as she pressed Pompeo on what this means for the deal. The secretary of state continued to defend the arrangement by dismissing the implications and saying “lots of people say things. There will be lots of noise. Everyone is competing for attention and time in the media.”
Pompeo continued to insist the U.S. “made a lot of progress” in the region, and he pointed to past prisoner swaps when Brennan noted the “significant impact” of releasing 5,000 fighters. He also responded to criticism from Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), who condemned the deal by comparing it to the Iran nuclear deal.