Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Afghanistan on Monday, without announcement, flying there from Vietnam. He first praised the forward momentum toward peace talks between warring parties in Afghanistan and credited much of the progress to President Trump’s implementation of his south Asia strategy.

He has echoed the sentiments of many up to this point — a desire for continued talks toward peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis previously used the word “reconciliation.” If the United States is to leave, the Afghan government needs to be on peaceful terms with the Taliban to prevent further bloodshed. The Taliban has expressed an interest in this future, as long as the U.S. is not involved. However, the United States does not need to be on peaceful terms with the Taliban provided it has pulled out of the country. Compared to some other terror groups, the Taliban is more of a local threat than an international one. With that said, the DOD recently wanted to ensure that the Taliban also would not be a state which harbors other terror groups, as they have in the past.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, shake hands after a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 9, 2018. Pompeo used an unannounced trip Monday to Afghanistan to step up the Trump administration’s calls for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. | AP Photo/Rahmat Gul


While he was in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Pompeo said,

Now more than ever, the United States as an enduring partner for Afghanistan. It’s been almost one year since President Trump announced the new south Asia strategy. It features a conditions-based approach, and the removal of artificial timelines and arbitrary troop ceilings. We’re working with the Afghan government and security forces to set the conditions to produce a safer and more secure Afghanistan, which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

You should know that the peace process is the same. The United States will support, facilitate, and participate in these peace discussions, but peace must be decided by the Afghans and settled among them. We expect that these peace talks will include a discussion of the role of international actors and forces.

I came here today to learn the progress that we’ve made in each of the dimensions. My conclusion from this visit is that the president’s strategy is indeed working, our south Asia strategy has sent a clear message to the Afghan peoples and its security services — that we will support them as they continue to fight to defend their country and their people. The strategy has sent a clear message, too, to the Taliban — they can not wait us out, and we are beginning to see the results both on the battlefield, where the Taliban’s momentum is slowing, and in the … prospects for peace with them.

We have also today had the chance to discuss the progress Afghanistan is making to prepare for elections this fall.”