Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the feuding leadership of the Afghan government that they must end their disputes and make an agreement with the Taliban or President Donald Trump could order the withdrawal of all American soldiers from the country and slash $1 billion in financial aid to Kabul, NBC News reported on Tuesday.
The threat of the troop withdrawal was made two weeks ago when Pompeo was in Afghanistan but was only revealed now to NBC by two current senior officials, one former senior official and a foreign diplomat.
The Trump administration is worried that the continued delay of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which were supposed to start March 10 as part of a tenuous deal the U.S. made with the terrorist group a month earlier, will cause the failure of the peace agreement and that the Taliban will emerge in a stronger position due to the fractured Kabul government.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah both claim the leadership of the country after disputed elections in February. Pompeo told Abdullah that he must support Ghani, NBC reported.
The White House is hopeful that the threat will bring results, according to a senior administration official said, although the Afghan rivals have so far rejected suggestions for compromises.
However, Pompeo has reported some progress since his visit, particularly connected to putting together a team for talks with the Taliban and on the planned release of prisoners.