Mission is to End Afghanistan’s Position as “Platform for Terror”, Says Pompeo on Peace Process

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press conference that the mission delegated to US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is that Afghanistan doesn’t become a threat, or platform for terror ever again, something that US President Donald Trump wants.

During a press conference called on by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, and Australian Minister of Defense Linda Reynolds, a question was raised whether a deal with the Taliban can be reached during the current round of talks in Doha that started on Sunday.

It was also
asked if US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad ready to meet with the political ship of the Taliban to finalize such a deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that their work is essentially “to create a reduction in violence and peace in Afghanistan”. He assured that Ambassador Khalilzad, at his direction and at the President’s direction, has been engaged in this for a long time.

“You talk about conversations with the Taliban; Ambassador Khalilzad has talked with all of the elements of Afghan authority. He’s talked with civil society groups, he’s spoken with women’s groups, he’s spoken with President Ghani and CEO Abdullah. He’s spoken with other Afghan institutional leaders, all of which are aimed at the singular purpose of creating an environment where U.S. resources and, frankly, Australian resources and all those participants in Resolute Support can expend fewer resources both in terms of treasure, in terms of life and blood in Afghanistan”, Pompeo explained.

He said that after almost 2 decades, US President Trump has made very clear that his desire is that US develop a diplomatic resolution that permits it to reduce the resources that are located there in country while simultaneously ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a platform where terror can strike the United States of America.

The above is what Pompeo presented as “Ambassador Khalilzad’s mission”.

It was also asked that in the case there is a deal between Taliban and US, does the withdrawal of five to six thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan sound like a realistic option to Pompeo.

Pompeo pointed that Department of Stare is closely synced up with the US Department of Defense to see if they get the right political resolution, the right force structure in the region as well.

Australian Foreign Minister Payne was asked whether they think the conditions are there for the U.S. withdrawal and or if they opines it is premature.

Australian Defense Minister Reynolds was redirected the question and she said that she has seen firsthand the enormous difference that they (Australia and NATO) are doing in Operation Resolute and some other activities, hand in hand with American servicemen and women.

“And it was very clear to me there that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward for peace in Afghanistan”, she said.

Reynolds said that their position is under constant review, and they are now waiting to see what happens with the 28 September election and also with the next round of peace talks.

“We are of course looking forward, but we have yet – not yet made any decisions, and we will of course take any future considerations in Afghanistan in terms of our other regional priorities and issues. But again, whatever we do there, it’s got to be at the behest of the Afghan Government”, Reynolds conceded.

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