Describing the ongoing US-Taliban talks in Doha as an “incredibly complicated” negotiation, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has hoped that there is sufficient progress in the deliberations for him to travel in the next couple of weeks to move it further.
The US was trying to “find pockets” where there was “sufficient agreement” that everyone could begin to move forward, Pompeo said at a farmers’ gathering in Iowa on Monday, at a time when Special US Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and his team are holding talks with the Taliban in Doha.
“I have a team on the ground right now trying to negotiate with the Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, trying to find a way to achieve an Afghanistan that's not at war, that's not engaged in violence, that doesn't present a threat to the United States of America, that will respect the fundamental basic rights for every Afghan citizen—women, children—across the full spectrum,” he said.
Pompeo was responding to a question from farmers after his address at the “Future Farmers of America” event in Iowa.
“That is a complicated problem, and if you add in the regional players—Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Russia, all who have an interest in Afghanistan—it’s an incredibly complicated negotiation,” he asserted.
At the same time, Pompeo said Khalilzad was on the ground, trying to “find pockets where there’s sufficient agreement that everyone can begin to move forward, take all the various complex pieces and bring them together” to hopefully get an agreement.
Pompeo said the Afghan agreement would be “based on fundamental understandings about different interests and incentives” that the parties had, so that this agreement would hold and stay.
“In this case, if we could do this, if we could pull off a resolution in Afghanistan... boy, the good that we could do for the world! I hope Ambassador Khalilzad makes progress,” he said.
“I am hoping he [Khalilzad] makes enough progress and I can travel there in a couple weeks and help move it along a little bit myself,” Pompeo said.
The US negotiators and the Taliban members have reached to some kind of agreements on the modality of foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan and the guarantee that Afghanistan’s territory is not used as a threat against other countries, Taliban sources familiar with the talks said.
In the past two days, the two sides have worked on the details of these agreements and there is a possibility that the negotiations will extend, the sources added.
But, the Presidential Palace said the final agreement on any topic relevant to peace will be determined by the Afghan government.
“Whatever is agreed, it is agreed only between the Afghan government and the Taliban and then the document becomes implementable,” said President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.
The fifth round of Qatar talks entered their third day on Monday after they were suspended for two days aimed at “extensive” discussions and consultations on issues relevant to the negotiations. The two sides are reportedly bargaining on the nature of foreign forces withdrawal and the assurance by the Taliban that threat will not be staged from Afghanistan’s soil against a foreign nation.