Pompeo Defends Trump’s Afghan Peace Plan, Ensuing ‘Incredible Progress’ 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that American soldiers have suffered no deaths in Afghanistan in almost a year, citing the Trump administration’s initiative to promote peace in the conflict-torn nation.Washington in February concluded an agreement with the Taliban insurgency to close the 19-year-old Afghan war, the longest in American history. The historic understanding started a phased withdrawal of American troops from the South Asian nation.The deal also opened first direct peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government in September to negotiate a political power-sharing understanding to permanently end the war.U.S. officials, however, have acknowledged a recent spike in fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents that threatens the peace process. They’ve urged both Afghan adversaries to reduce hostilities and move quickly toward a negotiated settlement.“No U.S. servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan in almost a year, and Afghans are finally discussing peace and reconciliation among themselves. Such incredible progress,” Pompeo said in a series of tweets that came one day after several social media posts boasting of American “swagger” during his diplomatic tenure.Swagger (def.): To represent America with pride, humility, and professionalism. We’ve done it. FILE – Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, right, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of a Taliban political team, arrive at the Foreign Ministry for talks, Islamabad, Dec. 16, 2020. (Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs photo)He tweeted that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan was to eliminate al-Qaida and threats to the American homeland. “Don’t need 10s of 1,000s of U.S. troops on the ground to do that. We have partners: brave Afghans, @NATO forces. We also have the ability to project power from afar.”The U.S.-Taliban deal requires all American and NATO troops to leave the country by this May.In return, the insurgent group has pledged to fight international terrorist groups on Afghan soil and sever ties with the al-Qaida terror network. The Taliban have also committed to finding a political settlement to the war through negotiations with rival Afghan groups.The so-called intra-Afghan negotiations are set to restart Tuesday in Doha, Qatar, after a break of three weeks. The two Afghan warring sides paused the dialogue on December 14 for internal deliberations.The stalemated Afghan conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including combatants and Afghan civilians. It has cost the U.S. the lives of around 2,500 military personnel and nearly $1 trillion.

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