U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded “demonstrable evidence” from the Taliban that it will lower the violence level in Afghanistan before signing a deal that would lead to peace talks and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
Pompeo told a news conference in Uzbekistan on Monday that a deal was close but that they had been close before and failed because the Taliban was unable to prove it is serious about peace.
“We’re working on a peace and reconciliation plan, putting the commas in the right place, getting the sentences right,” Pompeo said.
“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.”
The remarks by Pompeo’s made days after U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Kabul and held discussions with Afghan leaders over recent talks with the Taliban Qatar-based members.
In the talks with President Ashraf Ghani, the presidential in a statement said there had been no notable progress in the talks with the Taliban. But Khalilzad said he is still hopeful to reaching a peace deal with the Taliban once the Taliban agree on reduction of violence.
Khalilzad has so far held 11th round of talks with the Taliban in Qatar to end the US’s longest war in Afghanistan. Still there is long way ahead of peace, as the Taliban recently accused US of imposing fresh demands that caused delay in singing the pace deal.