NBC News, quoting two current US senior officials (and one former official) on Tuesday reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a trip to Kabul two weeks ago on March 23, threatened President Ashraf Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah that President Trump might do a complete troop pullout, as well as an cut aid, if the dispute continues.
Immediately following his visit to Kabul, the US State Department released a statement saying that because of the failure of the Afghan leaders to end the political impasse, $1 billion in US aid money for Afghanistan would be cut, and funding in 2021 might also be reduced.
However, the statement about a complete troop withdrawal was not previously reported.
A former senior US official was quoted by NBC as saying that Pompeo told Ghani and Abdullah they would be held responsible if the president’s peace deal fails.
According to the former official, Pompeo told the Afghan leaders that Trump has followed through on other threats to withdraw troops and pull financial aid, said NBC report.
Pompeo told Abdullah that he must support Ghani, according to officials as quoted by NBC news.
This comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 7-hour visit to Kabul on March 23 where he met with President Ghani and his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah, separately, and in a joint meeting. But the meetings ended without a result.
The US State Department in a statement said the United States deeply regrets that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens.
The statement said that “the United States is disappointed in them (Ghani and Abdullah) and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed US-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country.”
“Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to US national interests, effective immediately, the US government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan,” the statement said. “Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021.”
The statement said that the US will also initiate a review of all of its programs and projects to identify additional reductions and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan.