US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he was thankful to his Afghan counterparts for preparing an “inclusive” negotiating team.
“Thankful to my Afghan counterparts for preparing an inclusive negotiating team to make intra-Afghan negotiations successful,” Pompeo said on Twitter. “I also applaud your commitment to begin releasing prisoners and your commendable effort to set conditions for peace and reconciliation.”
“I urge you to show the same commitment to the effort to form an inclusive government. This step plus decisions already taken can help all Afghans realize a brighter future,” Pompeo said.
He posted pictures of his meetings with both President Ashraf Ghani and hid political rival Abdullah Abdullah in his tweets.
This comes as the Taliban has refused to negotiate with a team announced by the Afghan government, the armed group’s spokesman has said, in a potential setback to the next steps in the United States-brokered peace process.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday the group will not negotiate with the 21-member team as it was not selected in a way that included “all Afghan factions”.
On Thursday, the Afghan government’s Ministry of Peace Affairs announced the team, with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad praising the move as “inclusive”.
The team, headed by Masoom Stanekzai, former chief of the National Directorate of Security, and includes politicians, former officials, civil society representatives – among them five women.