The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday in an interview on CBS News' Face the Nation said that along with the public document of the US-Taliban deal released on Saturday, “there are two implementing elements that will be provided. They are secret.”
“They are military implementation documents that are important to protect our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines,” Pompeo said.
“They're classified, secret. There aren't any side deals. Remember, the side deals I was complaining about (referring to Iran deal under the Obama administration) were deals that the American side never got to see. John Kerry never got to see those side deals. This is- this is not that. This is a fully transparent arrangement,” he said.
In response to a question about whether or not there is a deal to keep a certain US military presence in Afghanistan, Pompeo said:
“The American people should know Donald Trump is not going to take words on a paper. We're going to see if the Taliban are prepared to live up to the commitments they've made.”
“The Bush administration and the Obama administration both tried to get the words that were on the paper yesterday that the Taliban would break from al-Qaida publicly. We got that. That's important. Now, time will tell if they'll live up to that commitment is our expectation,” he said.
But despite the significance of formalizing an agreement on paper, Pompeo reiterated that everything was based on actions, when asked if he trusted the Taliban to uphold their pledge to cut ties with Al-Qaeda.
"Don't trust anything. We're gonna deliver. It's about actions. The agreements set out, the conditions that set out the space. But no, this deal doesn't depend upon trusting anyone. It has a deep, complex, well-thought-out, multi-month negotiated verification complex and mechanism by which we can observe and hold every member of the agreement accountable. We'll do that. It's not about trust. It's about what happens on the ground, not only yesterday, which was an important day, but in the days that follow."
On Saturday, US peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of Taliban, signed the peace agreement at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar following 18 months of negotiations.
The agreement was signed following a successful weeklong period of a reduction in violence that was announced on February 22.
There are currently about 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan, which will be reduced to 8,600 within 135 days according to the plan, if conditions are met, say US officials.
Pompeo said that he hopes that in the coming days the intra-Afghan talks will start.
“We're- we're prepared to do what it takes to ensure that we keep America safe,” he said, adding that the US has urged the Afghan security forces and Taliban to reduce the levels of violence.
Speaking after the agreement, US President Donald Trump at a press conference said that he will soon meet with the Taliban leaders. But Pompeo told CBS that he doesn't know the details about this.
“President Trump wants to make sure that everyone in Afghanistan understands that the United States is committed to making sure that this conversation takes place. We've been at this for an awful long time. You recounted the loss of American life. There's a better path forward. The Taliban now know this because of the work that we've done,” he said.
Trump will be actively engaged in helping get the conditions right and beginning this journey that began in Doha on Saturday, he said.
Part of the deal involves the release of prisoners: 5,000 Taliban prisoners released by the Afghan government, and 1,000 Afghan security forces released by the Taliban.
A day after the US and the Taliban signed the deal, President Ghani appeared at a press conference – for the second time in his five-year term – and said “there is no commitment on the release of the 5,000 prisoners” of the Taliban.
Pompeo was asked during the interview if what Ghani was saying was "wrong":
Pompeo answered: “(The document) says that we will work with all relevant parties to build on confidence, to create confidence-building measures amongst all of the parties, the Afghan government, non-Taliban, and others..We- we want this to be an inclusive process.”
On Saturday, Taliban’s top negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai in an interview after the signing of the US and Taliban agreement said that: “The intra-Afghan talks will start on March 10, once 5,000 of our hostages who are imprisoned in different parts of the country are released.”
“If the prisoners are not released on time than the intra-Afghan talks will be delayed,” Stanikzai said, adding that “the US has guaranteed to free the prisoners.”
Monday 2 March 2020 13:01