The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Taliban’s deputy Mullah Baradar and warned him against attacking American troops in Afghanistan, the State Department said on Tuesday.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, on Tuesday, released an official statement that Pompeo held a video conference with Taliban chief negotiator Baradar, to discuss the implementation of the Doha agreement signed in February. The agreement drew up plans for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees such as the reduction in violence.
“The Secretary made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans.”
Pompeo too, tweeted about the meeting on Tuesday, and said: “Spoke yesterday with the Taliban chief negotiator to press the Taliban to live up to their commitments under the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, including not to attack Americans.”
The Taliban delegation’s statement said they were “committed to starting intra-Afghan talks, as we have said before.”
Baradar also assured Pompeo that they will follow the Doha deal and “not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against the security of the U.S.” and other countries.
The U.S. statement of the videocall followed the White House’s debate on The New York times report that Russia offered the militant group bounties to kill U.S. and collation soldiers in Afghanistan.
The administration of President Donald Trump has maintained that they did not inform him because the intelligence was inconclusive, despite several media reports citing sources that said the president’s daily briefings had included this at least once in 2019 and in early 2020.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany criticized the media reports and said that Trump is now informed.
“The president has been briefed on what is unfortunately in the public domain because of The New York Times and the irresponsible leak.”
She also clapped back at sources who said Trump rarely reads the briefings.
“The president does read [the daily briefs] and he also consumes intelligence verbally,“ McEnany said. “This president, I‘ll tell you, is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face.”
Trump himself also tweeted that the “intel” had told him that the bounty report was “not credible” and that is the reason he was not informed.
The U.S. Department of Defence also said they had “found no corroborating evidence to validate” the Russian report.
Khalilzad’s ongoing tour
This comes amidst U.S. Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s tour of the region to advance the Afghan peace process.
He will not be touching down in Afghanistan, but spoke to President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the high council for National Reconciliation, via a video conference.
Khalilzad also visited Tashkent and spoke about the peace process with the foreign ministers of the C5+1 grouping which includes Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Pompeo too joined in the call and “reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the C5+1 diplomatic platform to address shared security interests, including peace in Afghanistan, and to advance regional connectivity and trade.”