Afghanistan, US agree to accelerate peace talks with Taliban



US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) is greeted by President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul June 25. At right is Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. [Jacquelyn Martin/POOL/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The United States and Afghanistan Thursday (July 25) said they have agreed to accelerate efforts to reach a negotiated end to the conflict with the Taliban.

In a joint statement, Washington and Kabul said the agreement had been reached in a telephone call between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Ashraf Ghani Wednesday (July 24).

'No change' to US commitment

Pompeo assured Ghani that "there has been no change" to US President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy, "including US commitment to a conditions-based drawdown" of troops, the statement said.

Ghani and Pompeo agreed that "now is the time to accelerate efforts to reach a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan", said the statement.


President Ashraf Ghani confers with Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford in Kabul July 25. [Afghan Presidential Palace/Facebook]

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad were sent to Kabul to "discuss in detail the next steps on the road to peace", the statement said.

Khalilzad is then expected to head to Doha to resume talks with the Taliban.

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