Secretary Pompeo lands in Kabul unannounced ahead of Afghan peace talks

12:07 AM | 26 Jun, 2019
Secretary Pompeo lands in Kabul unannounced ahead of Afghan peace talks
KABUL - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in war-ravaged Kabul in an unannounced stopover on Tuesday to brainstorm ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

In his 'surprise' tour, Pompeo met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as he stopped over on his way to New Delhi for meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials.

The seven-hour visit to Afghanistan comes ahead of the seventh round of peace talks between Taliban leaders and US officials aimed at finding a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan; the next round of peace talks is scheduled to begin on June 29 in Doha.

“I hope we have a peace deal before September 1. That's certainly our mission set,” Pompeo said.

“While we've made clear to the Taliban that we are prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear, we've not yet agreed on a timeline to do so,” said Pompeo.

The US official said the two sides are nearly ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban's commitment to join fellow Afghans in ensuring that Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for “terrorists”.

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“We agree that peace is our highest priority and that Afghanistan must never again serve as a platform for international terrorism,” he shared.

Pompeo said all sides agree that finalizing a US-Taliban understanding on terrorism and foreign troop presence will open the door to intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiation, adding that the next step is at the heart of the US effort.

“We are not and will not negotiate with the Taliban on behalf of the government or people of Afghanistan,” he clarified.

Pompeo's visit is crucial considering that Pakistan recently hosted a peace conference 'Lahore Process' which was attended by senior Afghan leaders.

Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani is also scheduled to tour Pakistan this week.