The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Monday demanded “demonstrable evidence” from the Taliban that it can and will reduce violence before signing a deal that would lead to Afghanistan peace talks and a withdrawal of American troops from the country.
Pompeo, in a conference in neighboring Uzbekistan, said the deal was close but in retrospect, the Taliban had failed before to deliver according; therefore, there is more to be taken care of, before the deal is final
He said, “We’re working on a peace and reconciliation plan, putting the commas in the right place, getting the sentences right. We got close once before to having an agreement: a piece of paper that we mutually executed and the Taliban were unable to demonstrate either their will or capacity or both to deliver on a reduction in violence.”
“So, what we are demanding now is demonstrable evidence of their will and capacity to reduce violence, to take down the threat, so the inter-Afghan talks … will have a less violent context,” he said. “We’re hopeful we can achieve that but we’re not there yet, and work certainly remains.”
This comes after Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, told President Ghani that “no notable progress” had been made in talks with the Taliban, but was hopeful of reaching an understanding in the matter.
It is noteworthy that Khalilzad, before meeting with President Ghani, had traveled to Pakistan and spoke to some Pakistani high-ranking officials to further pave the ground for the peace negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan.
Throughout Khalilzad’s mission in Duha, Qatar, sources close to the Taliban, have also reported hope for a productive conclusion of the negotiation, on one hand, and on the other, the Taliban’s cross over increasing demands by the US.
The Afghan government, although ready to conduct intra-Afghan peace talks, has been emphasizing a ‘ceasefire’ not a ‘violence reduction’ policy, as a precondition for the negations.