Mike Pompeo Pushes Peace Talks on Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan - NBC4 Washington
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

Mike Pompeo Pushes Peace Talks on Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Mike Pompeo Pushes Peace Talks on Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan
    Win McNamee/Getty Images
    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the SelectUSA 2018 Investment Summit June 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland.

    What to Know

    • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had extended a recent cease-fire in hopes of encouraging the militants to come to the bargaining table.

    • The Taliban have seized control of several districts across the country in recent years.

    • Speaking at Monday's news conference, Ghani praised the Trump administration's South Asia strategy.

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Monday to step up the Trump administration's calls for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

    Flying into Kabul after visiting Vietnam, Pompeo made the appeal in meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

    "The United States will support, facilitate and participate in these discussions," Pompeo later told journalists, stressing that any talks would be "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned."

    Pompeo added: "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."

    Mueller Report: 10 Instances of Possible Obstruction of Justice by Trump

    [NATL] Mueller Report: 10 Instances of Possible Obstruction of Justice by Trump

    Special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election included instances of potential obstruction by President Donald Trump. Here is a rundown of the ten mentioned in the report.

    (Published Thursday, April 18, 2019)

    However, it remains unclear how the Taliban will take such an offer after nearly 17 years of war. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terror attacks by al Qaeda, which the Taliban government at the time had harbored.

    Since then, the insurgents have repeatedly rejected such calls, demanding direct talks with the United States.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had extended a recent holiday cease-fire in hopes of encouraging the militants to come to the bargaining table, but the Taliban rejected the offer and resumed attacks. The Taliban have seized control of several districts across the country in recent years, and launch near-daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces. An increasingly powerful Islamic State affiliate has also stepped up attacks in recent months.

    Pompeo's latest trip comes just days after the death of a U.S. service member, Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California, in what the U.S. Defense Department called an "apparent insider attack," NBC News reported. Maciel, who was the third U.S. service member to be killed in Afghanistan this year, was deployed in February as part of Trump's South Asia strategy to work in a brigade of advisers to train Afghan soldiers and police. Two other U.S. soldiers also were wounded in the attack.

    Speaking at Monday's news conference, Ghani praised the Trump administration's South Asia strategy, which included sending more American forces and pressuring neighboring Pakistan to do more to stop militants coming over its border into 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, citing the recent cease-fire.

    Key Moments From Barr's Presser Prior to Report Release

    [NATL] Key Moments From AG Barr's Press Conference Prior to Redacted Mueller Report's Release

    Attorney General William Barr addressed the media prior to his department's release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report to Congress.

    (Published Thursday, April 18, 2019)

    Pompeo also added, perhaps optimistically given Afghanistan's long history of resisting foreign forces, that the Taliban were "beginning to see that they cannot wait us out."

    Pompeo left Afghanistan for the United Arab Emirates, where he will meet Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a staunch U.S. ally, amid his country's war in Yemen. The UAE is highly suspicious of Iran and welcomed Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.