US Secretary Pompei meets with Taliban leaders

by Akeem Alao

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has scheduled a meeting with Taliban officials in Qatar.

The US State Department disclosed that Pompeo will hold talks between the United States and the Taliban.

“Secretary Pompeo is going to meet with Taliban officials in Doha including Mullah Baradar, Taliban’s chief negotiator, to press the Taliban to continue to comply with the agreement signed last month,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

As part of the deal with the US, the Taliban solicited the release of all its prisoners held by the Afghan government, which has been reluctant to follow through.

Earlier, Pompeo had met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his longtime rival Abdullah Abdullah, who conducted a parallel inauguration after contesting the presidential election result.

Pompeo arrived early on Monday in the Afghan capital of Kabul on a previously unannounced visit to help salvage a deal signed in February between the US and the Taliban group amid tension among the Afghan leadership.

He visited Ghani at his palace before meeting Abdullah, both of whom say they are Afghanistan’s rightful leader following a disputed presidential election in September.

Their standoff has stalled the selection of a negotiating team to represent the Afghan government in planned talks with the Taliban.

A diplomat in Kabul briefed on the meetings and two other Afghan officials said they were inconclusive.

“It did not work. Neither of the two budged,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition on anonymity.

Omid Maisam, a spokesman for Abdullah, said if there were more meetings, a solution was “not impossible” and that they wanted a peaceful end to the crisis.

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