The Trump administration declined on Sunday to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord, which was scrapped after a terror attack resulting in the death of an American soldier in Kabul.
In an interview on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Taliban had “tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country.”
“We’re going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in a negotiation,’’ he added.
Pompeo and other administration officials left open the door to a resumption of negotiations, and so did the Taliban. But any new talks may not happen for several months, as the sides feel mutual distrust, Afghan officials said, cited by the New York Times.
Despite criticism from several fellow Republicans, including national security adviser John R. Bolton, Trump has promised to reduce the number of American forces in Afghanistan, saying two weeks ago that their numbers would come down to 8,600 from the current level of about 14,000 – far below the 100,000 troops that were based there during the height of the war.
Pompeo laid out two conditions for a withdrawal on Sunday: that violence be reduced and that another terrorist attack on the United States from Afghanistan never be permitted.
“We’re not going to withdraw our forces without making sure we achieve President Trump’s twin objectives,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
In an interview on…