Pompeo: US wants ‘demonstrable evidence’ Taliban will reduce violence

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the U.S. will not agree to a cease-fire with Taliban forces in Afghanistan without “demonstrable evidence” that it is committed to reducing violence.

“We’re working on a peace and reconciliation plan, putting the commas in the right place, getting the sentences right,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Uzbekistan, The Associated Press reported. “We got close once before to having an agreement: a piece of paper that we mutually executed and the Taliban were unable to demonstrate either their will or capacity or both to deliver on a reduction in violence.”

“So, what we are demanding now is demonstrable evidence of their will and capacity to reduce violence, to take down the threat, so the inter-Afghan talks … will have a less violent context,” he added. “We’re hopeful we can achieve that but we’re not there yet, and work certainly remains.”

Last week, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani he had seen “no notable progress” in ending the nearly 19-year war. The Taliban previously said they had offered him a 10-day cease-fire window to sign a peace agreement. The group had, until now, refused to meet with Ghani’s government and Ghani has been unable to agree on the members of a negotiating team with his partner in the Afghan unity government, the news service reported.

President Trump announced the cancellation of previously undisclosed peace talks with Taliban representatives at Camp David over the killing of a U.S. service member in September before announcing negotiations had resumed that November.