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Pompeo announces that the US is 'prepared' to withdraw from Afghanistan, but declines to give timetable

The withdrawal depends on the outcome of a deal with the Taliban


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that the United States had told the Taliban that it was "prepared" to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. However, he did not give a timeline for when this might take place.

Here's what we know

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.

Pompeo reiterated that the U.S. had agreed with the Taliban in January "that any comprehensive peace agreement must address four interconnected issues: counterterrorism, foreign troop presence, inter-Afghan dialogue leading to inter-Afghan negotiations, as well as a permanent ceasefire."

He clarified that while "while we've made clear to the Taliban that we are prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear we have not yet agreed on a timeline to do so."

The U.S. has been trying to get the Taliban to recognize the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

In January, the chief U.S. negotiator working to reach a deal with the Taliban told the New York Times that the two sides had "a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement." He also said that the Taliban had "committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals."

The Taliban still controls a significant amount of territory in Afghanistan.

Pompeo said on Tuesday that peace was "our priority" and that the U.S. was seeking to "lay the groundwork for a stable and prosperous post-settlement future for Afghanistan."

One last thing…
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