Pompeo says Afghan negotiations likely to be ‘contentious’

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ISLAMABAD – A lot anticipated negotiations between Afghanistan’s fighters are more likely to be “contentious,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Friday, however are the one method ahead if Afghans are to search out peace after a long time of relentless battle.

Pompeo made his feedback en path to the Center Jap State of Qatar, the place intra-Afghan negotiations are to start Saturday, a day largely reserved for ceremony earlier than the laborious process of hammering out a highway map for a post-war Afghanistan begins.

The negotiations had been specified by a peace deal Washington brokered with the Taliban and signed in Doha on Feb. 29 aimed toward ending the conflict and bringing U.S. troops dwelling ending America’s longest battle.

“It’s taken us longer than I want that it needed to get from February 29 to right here however we anticipate Saturday morning, for the primary time in nearly twenty years, to have the Afghans sitting on the desk collectively ready to have what might be contentious discussions about the way to transfer their nation ahead to scale back violence and ship what the Afghan persons are demanding — a reconciled Afghanistan with a authorities that displays a rustic that isn’t at conflict,” Pompeo mentioned on the aircraft taking him to Doha.

“It’s their nation to determine the way to transfer ahead and make a greater life for all Afghan folks,” he mentioned.

President Donald Trump made the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan a promise earlier than the 2016 presidential election. Within the countdown to this November’s presidential polls, Washington has ramped up strain to start out intra-Afghan negotiations.

At a information convention Thursday, Trump known as the talks “thrilling” and mentioned Washington anticipated to be all the way down to 4,000 troops by November. Though delays have plagued the beginning of talks, Washington started withdrawing a few of its 13,000 troops after the Feb. 29 deal was signed.

Withdrawal of the remaining troops doesn’t hinge on the success of intra-Afghan negotiations however somewhat the dedication made by the Taliban within the deal to combat terrorists teams that would threaten the U.S. and its allies.

Pompeo in his feedback made it clear the U.S. was able to return troopers to Afghanistan if it noticed a risk rising and the Taliban reneged on their commitments. The White Home and its peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad have refused to present specifics on commitments made by the Taliban, citing safety issues.

“Our dedication to scale back our forces to zero is conditioned on them executing their obligations beneath the settlement (which is) so very clear about their obligations with respect to terrorist exercise going down in Afghanistan,“ Pompeo mentioned.

However Pompeo warned of spoilers to peace, citing current focused killings in Afghanistan and an tried assassination earlier this week of Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh.

“It’s very clear that the violence ranges have to come back all the way down to acceptable ranges,” he mentioned.

In Kabul the Afghan delegation was readying to journey to Dubai together with Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the Excessive Council for Nationwide Reconciliation, the highly effective umbrella group that may oversee the negotiation crew headed by former intelligence chief Mohammed Masoom Stanikzai. Abdullah’s appointment to move the council was a part of an influence sharing cope with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, ending their months of squabbling over the outcomes of controversial presidential polls the yr earlier than.

A Taliban official, talking on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to handle the media, mentioned Friday {that a} last six prisoners held by the Kabul authorities arrived late Thursday in Doha. The six had been amongst 5,000 Taliban prisoner the U.S. peace deal known as on the Afghan authorities to free earlier than the beginning of negotiations. The Taliban had been required to free 1,000 authorities and navy personnel.

Prisoner releases had been a giant cause for a delay within the begin of talks and the final six had been believed to have been held as a result of each Australia and France balked at their launch. Their arrival in Doha clears a last hurdle to the beginning of talks.

At the same time as Afghans ready for negotiations, the violence continued Friday.

No less than two civilians and two troopers had been killed by a bomb hidden on a motorbike in japanese Khost province, a Defence Ministry assertion mentioned. The bomb exploded close to a marriage.

Individually, six Afghan troopers had been killed when their outpost in japanese Afghanistan was focused , a second ministry assertion mentioned.

Nobody took quick accountability for the assaults, although each Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate are energetic in japanese Afghanistan. The IS affiliate headquarters is in japanese Nagarhar province.

Though no U.S. or NATO troopers have died for the reason that signing of the U.S. cope with the Taliban, relentless assaults have been staged in opposition to Afghan navy outposts killing scores of Afghan troopers.

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The Taliban have additionally charged that Taliban prisoners freed by the federal government have been attacked as they returned dwelling and others had been attacked of their properties.

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Related Press author Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report

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