Pompeo sees parleys in coming days

Foreign Desk Report

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday expressed hope that negotiations would begin in the coming days between Afghanistan’s government and the

Taliban after the United States signed an agreement with the Taliban on a US troop pullout.
Pompeo told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program the agreement signed on Saturday was historic and contained detailed commitments by the Taliban to reduce violence in the country, paving the way for negotiations among the Afghan people on the future of the country for the first time in nearly two decades.
“We are hopeful that there will be inter-Afghan negotiations that commence as well,” Pompeo said, adding that US President Donald Trump would be actively engaged in the process. Pompeo gave no date for Trump’s promised meeting with Taliban leaders.
Earlier in the day, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pushed back Sunday against a key component of the US-Taliban deal signed a day earlier, saying he had not committed to releasing any insurgent prisoners.
“There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners,” Ghani told a press conference.
“This is the right and the self-will of the people of Afghanistan. It could be included in the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks, but cannot be a prerequisite for talks.
“General (Scott) Miller has told Taliban to do so. It is expected (to continue),” he added, referring to the US commander in charge of foreign forces in Afghanistan.
A Taliban source did not immediately comment.