The United States of America is withdrawing its representative at the peace talks in Afghanistan with the radical Taliban Zalmay Khalilzad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told to CNN.
Pompeo was speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” the morning after President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced he had canceled a secret Camp David meeting with Taliban leaders. The President said he scrapped the meeting after the Taliban took credit for an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.
News of the scrapped meeting — which was set to occur near the 18-year anniversary of 9/11 and take place at Camp David, traditionally a retreat where historic peace deals have been forged and where Afghanistan war plans were drawn up — shook Washington.
“I think as you saw, if the Taliban don’t behave, if they don’t deliver … the President of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure,” Pompeo said.
He listed a number of items he said the Taliban had, in principle, agreed to — including sitting down with Afghan leaders, achieving “certain reductions in violence” and breaking with al Qaeda.
“If we can’t get those conditions met … we’re not going to enter into any deal,” Pompeo said.
The secretary of state said Sunday’s now-canceled meeting at Camp David was in the works “for a while” and defended Trump’s decision to invite Taliban leaders on US soil.
“It was the case that when the Taliban tried to gain a negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country, President Trump made the right decision” to walk away, Pompeo said. “It made no sense for the Taliban to be rewarded for that kind of bad behavior.”
Despite Trump’s statement that he was ending peace talks, Pompeo said the administration is still working toward a deal and was seemingly close to one before Thursday’s bombing in Kabul.