Mike Pompeo makes surprise visit to Afghanistan to push peace process

July 10, 2018

Mike Pompeo makes surprise visit to Afghanistan to push peace process Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan Monday, where he pledged his support to the country’s leaders as they seek peace with the Taliban.

The Secretary of State said the Trump administration’s strategy was making progress in the country and promised to support the peace process between Afghanistan and the militant group. He made the unannounced stop, his first trip to the country as Secretary of State, after a trip to Asia that also included stops in North Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Pompeo urges peace in Afghanistan

Pompeo attended a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, where he assured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah that the U.S. would support them in seeking peace. Pompeo said that Afghanistan would be left to lead the talks, in which America would play an important but supporting role.

“An American role will be important in this, but we can’t run the peace talks, we can’t settle this from the outside,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo later told journalists, “The United States will support, facilitate and participate in these discussions.”

“The region and the world are all tired of what are taking place here in the same way that the Afghan people are no longer interested in seeing war,” he added.

Ghani urged caution, telling Pompeo, “If we think only in one day, a 40-year crisis can be ended we are being unrealistic.”

Lauds progress in Afghanistan

Pompeo pointed to the Trump administration’s strategy in the country as key in bringing the Taliban closer to the negotiating table, saying that the group is “beginning to see that they cannot wait us out.” President Trump announced the strategy, which called for more boots on the ground to pressure the militant group, last year.

“The strategy sent a clear message to the Taliban, they cannot wait us out,” Pompeo said. “Many of the Taliban now see that they can’t win on the ground militarily, that has everything to do with President Trump’s strategy.”

President Ghani also praised the administration’s South Asia strategy, which sets “conditions-based” terms of victory rather than a set timeline. The strategy also calls for pressure on Pakistan to stop terrorists from crossing into neighboring Afghanistan.

“Because of this strategy and the conditions-based nature of it, we, the members of the government, have been able to take bold steps outside the box and articulate an agenda of peace that is truly comprehensive and asks for engagement,” Ghani said.

Taliban stubbornly rejects peace

The Taliban, however, have rejected offers to talk with Afghanistan, which the group considers an illegitimate Western puppet state, in the past. The group has demanded instead direct negotiations with America as well as a withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.

The militant group refused an olive branch by Ghani to negotiate amid a brief cease-fire last month that lasted only three days. Ghani had offered to extend the cease-fire to negotiate peace but the Taliban rejected it and resumed attacks.

The Taliban has consolidated control over regions of the country in recent years, from which it continues to launch attacks almost daily. ISIS is also a growing threat in Afghanistan after suffering a demoralizing defeat last year in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 because the Central Asian country, then controlled by the Taliban, had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists. Before leaving, Pompeo visited with American service members stationed in Kabul.


Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.