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Pompeo lauds Loya Jirga participants, supports peace in Afghanistan

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has commended the participants of the Loya Jirga to be convened today to consolidate national support for peace.

“We understand that they will decide on the expeditious release of the remaining Taliban prisoners from their list, the last obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations,” a US government press release reported him as saying. “Following the timely release of these prisoners, the Taliban have committed to enter talks with the national team representing the strength and diversity of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban have also committed to significantly reduce violence and casualties during the talks where the parties will decide on a political roadmap to end the long and brutal war and agree on a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, he said, adding that the United States intends to hold the Taliban to these commitments.

“We acknowledge that the release of these prisoners is unpopular. But this difficult action will lead to an important result long sought by Afghans and Afghanistan’s friends: reduction of violence and direct talks resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war,” Pompeo said, adding that after 40 years of war and bloodshed and destruction, the parties are ready to embark on a political process to reach a negotiated settlement.

The United States urges President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, and other Afghan leaders, including participants of the Loya Jirga, to take advantage of this historic opportunity for a peace that benefits all Afghans and contributes to regional stability and global security, Pompeo said.

The Trump Administration remains committed to our partnership with Afghanistan, he said. “As ever, the United States seeks a sovereign, unified, and democratic Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors. At the same time, we are committed to reducing the burden on the US taxpayer and the risk to US troops.”

Terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan should never again pose a threat to the United States and our allies, he said. “We are prepared to maintain substantial security assistance to our Afghan security partners to achieve that objective.”

While the future of Afghanistan is for Afghans to decide, we strongly support the preservation and advancement of the social, economic, and political gains made since 2001, the Secretary of State said, adding that these gains include Afghanistan’s democratic development and the protection and expansion of the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children, and minorities.

To help Afghanistan realize peace, prosperity, and self-reliance, we are ready to support a peace settlement, including by extending US development programmes to previously under-served areas, he said. “We remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to respond to the Covid pandemic. We look forward to joining other donors at the upcoming Geneva Conference to discuss how best to support the Afghan people.”

“Finally, we remain committed to improving regional economic ties and connectivity. Promoting joint infrastructure projects is a key element of improved connectivity. We are prepared to support these projects through such US agencies as the Development Finance Corporation, which is also considering investment in agriculture and extractive industries, among other sectors,” he said.

While the decisions and conduct of both parties to intra-Afghan negotiations will affect the size and scope of future US assistance, Pompeo affirmed his country’s support for a sustainable peace and an enduring partnership with Afghanistan..