Washington, 10 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced frustration with renewed violence in Afghanistan, saying the Afghan parties to the conflict need to take advantage of the peace deal signed over the weekend.
“Violence must be reduced immediately for the peace process to move forward,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
“Do not squander this opportunity,” he said about the deal signed between the US and the Taliban, which aims to halt violence so the US can draw down troops.
“What we have urged the parties to do is stop posturing,” he said, adding that this includes moving ahead with prisoner releases and sitting down to talk.
US forces in Afghanistan conducted the first airstrike against the Taliban in 11 days on Wednesday, as new Taliban attacks left at least 32 Afghan security force members dead in at least three provinces.
“We still have confidence the Taliban leadership is working to deliver on its commitments. We are working on ours,” Pompeo said.
US President Donald Trump spoke this week with a top Taliban leader by phone.
Trump is aiming to wind down US forces by a third, to 8,600, within months – and complete the exit from Afghanistan by next year.
The US has been in Afghanistan since 2001, in an invasion launched after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.