US Secretary of State Pompeo visits Kabul amid a number of crises
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived within the Afghan capital Monday amid an ongoing political disaster, a raging Taliban insurgency and rising coronavirus circumstances — all of which additional threaten an already-floundering peace course of.
Pompeo was set to fulfill with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani alongside along with his archrival Abdullah Abdullah, who additionally claims the presidency, following a contested election final 12 months.
According to a pool report from a journalist accompanying Pompeo, the highest US diplomat was welcomed by particular envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — the lead US negotiator in current talks with the Taliban — after arriving at Kabul airport.
The go to comes only a day after the Afghan authorities and the Taliban held their first dialogue on arranging prisoner exchanges — a key step in a broader push for peace following a withdrawal deal signed between Washington and the militants final month.
The settlement established a framework for bringing to an finish America’s longest struggle following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Khalilzad tweeted Sunday it was “urgent” to rapidly conclude plans for the prisoner swap — as known as for within the US pact with the Taliban — with the coronavirus pandemic complicating diplomatic contacts.
The deal known as for the discharge of as much as 5,000 Taliban fighters held by Kabul, and as much as 1,000 members of the Afghan authorities forces in rebel arms.
That was meant to happen earlier than the beginning of peace talks initially set for March 10 between the federal government — which was not a celebration to the negotiations that produced the Doha deal — and the Taliban.
After initially refusing to launch the Taliban prisoners, Ghani introduced that the authorities would free 1,500 insurgents as a “gesture of goodwill” with plans to free one other 3,500 prisoners after the talks are underway.
The Taliban rejected the provide.
The Doha accord additionally requires the gradual withdrawal of American and different international troops over a 14-month interval — the principle focus of the US diplomatic efforts.
The first section of that withdrawal has already begun, although some troop actions have been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
In trade, the Taliban dedicated to combating jihadist teams like Al-Qaeda and promised to barter for the primary time with Kabul.
But for the reason that Doha settlement was signed, the Taliban have carried out scores of assaults.
Political chaos in Kabul has additional sophisticated issues, with Ghani’s former chief government Abdullah additionally claiming the presidency following final September’s bitterly disputed election.
The deadlock and continued combating together with the world’s preoccupation with coronavirus has sparked fears the window for a peace deal is closing quick.
Afghan well being officers have reported simply 40 circumstances of the novel coronavirus and one loss of life to this point.
However, well being specialists worry the contagion is spreading as tens of 1000’s of Afghans have returned house in current weeks after fleeing virus-hit Iran.