KABL (Pajhwok): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to sign a risky peace agreement with the Taliban, a media report said on Thursday.
Unnamed US, Afghan and European officials, familiar with discussions between the two sides in Qatar, confirmed Pompeo’s reservations about the proposed deal.
Pompeo said the US has “delivered” on its original mission in Afghanistan—to prevent al-Qaeda militants from using the country as a safe harbor.
In an interview on Monday with an Afghan TV channel, US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said the Americans and the Taliban had reached an agreement in principle.
However, the veteran diplomat, who arrived in Kabul from Doha, explained the document would be finalised after being approved by President Donald Trump.
Over the past 10 months, the US and the Taliban have held nine rounds of talks in the Gulf country, where the insurgent movement has its political office.
In line with the draft agreement, the US will withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan within 135 days if conditions set out in the agreement are met by the Taliban.
But the deal does not guarantee the continued presence of US counterterrorism forces in the country, survival of the government in Kabul or even an end to the war, according to the TIME magazine.
“No one speaks with certainty. None,” an Afghan official, who attended briefings on the deal with Khalilzad, was quoted as saying. “It is all based on hope. There is no trust…”
The official claimed there was no evidence of honesty and sincerity from the Taliban. Intercepted communications “show that they think they have fooled the US while the US believes that should the Taliban cheat, they will pay a hefty price.”
Trump administration officials said Defense Secretary Mark Esper would discuss the details of the deal with President Trump. If approved, the proposed deal could lead to a withdrawal of some 5,400 U.S troops from five bases within 135 days.
The Taliban have asked Pompeo to sign the agreement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, but Pompeo declined to do so, Afghan officials say.
“There is no agreement to sign yet. If and when there is an agreement that is approved by all parties, including President Trump and if the Secretary is the appropriate signatory, he will sign it,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told TIME.