Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Washington has seen a “significant reduction in violence” in Afghanistan on the eve of the expected signing of a long-awaited, landmark peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban.
Mr. Pompeo’s guarded confidence came during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran as Washington closely watches for any sign of violence from the Taliban amid a weeklong cease-fire that must be held for the deal to be formalized on Saturday.
He explained his department has been “watching closely to see if the Islamic Republic of Iran begins to take even more active measures, active measures that undermine our efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and just as importantly, put our American soldiers who on the ground there, both in the Kabul area and the west at risk as well.”
One week prior, the U.S. announced a breakthrough in negotiations with the Taliban after a year and a half of talks in an effort to wind down the longest military campaign in American history and bring home more than 12,000 U.S. troops still in the country.
The crux of the deal centers on the Taliban’s willingness to work with the U.S.-backed Kabul government to purge the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups that have found sanctuary in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon is pushing to keep at least a small contingent of U.S. special operations forces in the country to deal with the terrorist threat.