After his North Korea and Japan visits, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise stop-off in Afghanistan on Monday, offering US support for peace talks between the Ghani government and the Taliban.
This, and Pompeo’s promise that the US was willing to take part, is a change in policy. In January, President Trump had ruled out any US involvement in peace talks with the Taliban, saying the US didn’t want talks and it is “going to be a long time” before that changed.
Pompeo, by contrast, said the talks needed to be Afghan-led, and that the US would have an important role, but only to the extent the Afghans took the lead. Ghani has been trying to court talks with the Taliban for awhile, including a brief ceasefire.
Pompeo went on to insist President Trump’s escalation in Afghanistan is “working,” despite the amount of territory held by the government continuing to shrink. He said the US escalation was forcing the Taliban toward negotiations. The Taliban has yet to accept the negotiations.