US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wraps up a news conference on March 17 at the State Department in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Pompeo in Afghanistan, Apparently to Encourage Movement on Peace Talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived on Monday in Kabul, where he was set to meet with both President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, a politician who ran against Ghani in last fall’s election and insists he won. Apparently, Pompeo sees the rivalry as a main sticking point in pushing forward an agreement signed last month between Washington and the Taliban aimed at the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and a release of prisoners. The terms of the agreement would serve as a bridge to peace talks between the Islamists and the government in Kabul, although the two sides are already at an impasse concerning the prisoner release. US troops have been fighting Taliban and other Islamist groups in Afghanistan and surrounding areas since just after 9/11, making it America’s longest war, with most opinion polls showing US citizens vastly in favor of winding things down. Washington also injects billions of dollars of cash into the Afghan economy to help keep it afloat. The February deal, signed in Doha, the capital of Qatar, followed negotiations between the US and the Taliban that had lasted for over a year, with several interruptions.

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