Pompeo says USA prepared to remove troops from Afghanistan

Pompeo says USA prepared to remove troops from Afghanistan”

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who arrived in Kabul for an unannounced visit on Tuesday said that he hopes that Afghanistan will achieve a peace deal ahead of the Presidential Elections - scheduled for September 28.

Speaking from the U.S. Embassy in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Pompeo said that he wanted to "set the record straight" after "a number of errant, sometimes different, reports over the past few months about American diplomacy in Afghanistan".

"We agree that peace is our highest priority and that Afghanistan must never again serve as a platform for global terrorism".

"I hope we have a peace deal before September 1st".

"While we have made it clear to the Taliban we are prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear, we have not yet agreed on a timeline to do so", he said.

Pompeo said "real progress" has been made in the Afghan peace talks and that the parties were close to settling on a draft text.

The Taliban still controls a significant amount of territory in Afghanistan. So far the Taliban has refused to talk to Afghan government representatives, calling them "puppets". The International Federation of Journalists said 16 journalists were killed a year ago.

The talks between the United States and the Taliban will focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee that militants will not plot attacks from Afghan soil.

"More violence, against journalists or civilians, will not bring security and opportunity to Afghanistan, nor will it help the Taliban reach their political objectives", he said.

The former President also endorsed the ongoing USA efforts regarding peace process in Afghanistan, the statement added.

The Taliban said it killed the employees because Tolo was producing propaganda that supported the occupation of Afghanistan by the USA and its allies.

In his visit to Kabul, Pompeo held talks with Afghan leaders.

USA officials have previously said they are hoping for a deal before the upcoming Afghan presidential elections, which have already been delayed twice and are now set for September.

Preparation for the polls and a crucial chance to end the war with the Taliban are running in parallel, with worldwide diplomats and politicians based in Kabul trying to prevent them running into each other.

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