U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Kabul on Monday where he said there was hope for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“An element of the progress is the capacity that we now have to believe that there is now hope,” Pompeo said during a press conference alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. He also promised U.S. support for peace negotiations.
Today I received US Secretary of State @SecPompeo in Kabul. We discussed President Trump's South Asia strategy in details and agreed that the strategy is indeed working. We also discussed the Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process and the successful ceasefire. pic.twitter.com/cSH7MAkxev
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) July 9, 2018
In the 12 months since President Donald Trump began altering policies toward Afghanistan, the United States has increased its military presence in the country, and chosen to set conditions for defeating insurgents instead of timelines to withdraw troops.
The administration is also pressuring neighboring Pakistan to stop harboring terrorists. In January, the U.S. suspended nearly $2 billion in security aid and threatened to cut off more funding if Pakistan did not take more action against militant groups. Islamabad has been denying that it is a safe haven for terrorists.
“The progress we’ve made in the South Asia strategy in increasing the size and the capability of the Afghan Security Forces, in strengthening the reforms inside the Afghan Government[…]each of those are hallmarks of real progress,” Pompeo said.
President Ghani also argued that Trump’s policies have been successful, calling them a “game-changer.” He explained, “It is getting every actor and stakeholder engaged in the conflict around Afghanistan to recalculate, recalibrate, and think through the basic premise.”
We were honored to host U.S. @StateDept Secretary Michael R. Pompeo (@SecPompeo) at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan today for a troop engagement and encouraging remarks reaffirming the U.S. and NATO @ResoluteSupport efforts in country.
— USFOR-A Spokesman, Col Dave Butler (@USFOR_A) July 9, 2018
During the United States’ 17 year campaign in Afghanistan, many attempts at peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have failed. Violence continues to surge throughout the country.
Pompeo emphasized that it is up to Afghans to create peace: “The United States will support, facilitate, and participate in these peace discussions, but peace must be decided by the Afghans and settled among them.”
During the press conference, Pompeo also touched on plans to ensure security during the Afghan elections this fall.
“We support the Afghan Government and Security Forces as they work to ensure safe, credible, and transparent polls that reflect the will of the Afghan people,” he said.