Pompeo to meet Taliban negotiators in Qatar

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Chris J Ratcliffe
  • Pompeo will meet negotiators from the Taliban and Afghan government amid signs of progress in talks as the US speeds up its withdrawal.
  • Earlier this week the Pentagon said it would soon pull over 2000 troops out of Afghanistan. 
  • Despite talks, violence has surged across Afghanistan, with the Taliban stepping up daily attacks against Afghan security forces.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will Saturday meet negotiators from the Taliban and Afghan government amid signs of progress in their talks as the United States speeds up its withdrawal.

The State Department said late Friday that Pompeo will meet separately with the Afghan government and Taliban negotiation teams in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Pompeo will also see Qatar's ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and the foreign minister on his stop in the capital Doha, the Taliban's base for diplomacy, the State Department said on its public schedule.

The outgoing top US diplomat is on a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East as President Donald Trump shores up late-term priorities.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would soon pull some 2000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline established in a February agreement between Washington and the Taliban that envisions a full US withdrawal in mid-2021.

Trump has repeatedly vowed to end "forever wars," including in Afghanistan, America's longest-ever conflict that began with an invasion to dislodge the Taliban following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

President-elect Joe Biden, in a rare point of agreement, also advocates winding down the Afghanistan war although analysts believe he will not be as wedded to a quick timetable.

The Taliban for the first time are speaking to Afghanistan's government.

The talks started September 12 in Doha but almost immediately faltered over disagreements about the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.

Several sources told AFP on Friday that the two sides appear to have resolved some of the issues, however.

Among the sticking points so far, the Taliban and the Afghan government have struggled to agree on common language on two main issues.

The Taliban, who are Sunni hardliners, are insisting on adherence to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, but government negotiators say this could be used to discriminate against Hazaras, who are predominantly Shiite, and other minorities.

Another contentious topic is how the US-Taliban deal will shape a future Afghan peace deal and how it will be referred to.

The Doha peace talks opened after the Taliban and Washington signed a deal in February, with the US agreeing to withdraw all foreign forces in exchange for security guarantees and a Taliban promise to start talks.

Despite the talks, violence has surged across Afghanistan, with the Taliban stepping up daily attacks against Afghan security forces.

Trump's plan to slash troops by January 15, less than a week before his successor Joe Biden is to be sworn in to office, has been criticized by Kabul residents who fear it will embolden the Taliban to unleash a new wave of fighting.

Afghan civilians have long borne the brunt of the bloodshed.

Officials in Kabul also worry it will harden the Taliban position at the negotiating table, where the future of hard-won gains including women's rights are on the line.

Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Would you choose to continue working from home after the coronavirus lockdown if given the option?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it's much better for me
40% - 7251 votes
No ways! I can't wait to get back to the office
12% - 2122 votes
A mixture of both would suit me best
48% - 8751 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.52
(-0.4)
GBP/ZAR
19.96
(-0.4)
EUR/ZAR
17.34
(-0.1)
AUD/ZAR
11.09
(-0.2)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(-0.1)
Gold
1,746.93
(+0.8)
Silver
25.39
(+2.3)
Platinum
1,159.66
(-1.2)
Brent Crude
63.28
(+0.5)
Palladium
2,700.16
(+0.8)
All Share
67,073
(+1.0)
Top 40
61,383
(+1.2)
Financial 15
12,155
(+0.1)
Industrial 25
87,974
(+1.6)
Resource 10
67,823
(+1.0)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo