US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Afghanistan on a trip that aims to save the so-called peace deal signed between the Taliban and the United States.
Pompeo, who landed in Kabul on Monday on a previously unannounced visit, will meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah.
Under the deal signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, late last month, the Taliban agreed to sever ties with al-Qaeda and other terror groups and sit down for peace talks with the Afghan government. In return, Washington will start a phased withdrawal of troops.
The February 29 deal was primarily aimed at reducing violence in the war-torn country, but violence has escalated with the militants carrying out dozens of deadly attacks across the country.
In the latest incident, at least two dozen Afghan security forces and policemen were killed and several others went missing after "Taliban infiltrators" attacked them in an army base in southern Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Pomepos visit aims to resolve the impasse created in the so-called peace process as the countrys leaders have not yet reached an agreement over who was elected president in the September 2019 disputed election.
Ghani and Abdullah have recently held rival swearing-in ceremonies. The two rivals had earlier postponed their plans to hold parallel inauguration ceremonies to allow for more time to resolve their differences over the 2019 vote.
During his visit, Pompeo will seek to help end the stalemate, which has put on hold the start of intra-Afghan peace talks in which the Taliban would be included.
Those talks are viewed as a crucial next step in the so-called peace deal, negotiated to allow the United States to withdraw its troops and give Afghans the best chance at peace.
The United States said it would reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 from the current 13,000 within 135 days of signing the deal, and work with its allies to reduce the number of their forces over that period.