Pompeo travels to Kabul to advance the fragile peace process

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KABUL (AP) – United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Kabul on Monday on an urgent visit to try to move forward with a peace agreement signed last month by the United States with the Taliban. Pompeo made the trip despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has led other leaders and officials to reduce their official travel.

Since the signing of the agreement, the peace process has been paralyzed by political disputes in Afghanistan, where the top two leaders vie for the presidency.

President Ashraf Ghani and his main rival in last September’s presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, have declared themselves the winners of the elections and held two endowments this month.

Pompeo was expected to try to unblock the situation, which has put the start of intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban on hold. Those talks are seen as crucial to the next phase of the peace deal, negotiated to allow the United States to withdraw its troops and give the Afghans a chance for peace.

The United States and NATO have already begun to withdraw some troops from Afghanistan. The US withdrawal is not associated with the success of the intra-Afghan negotiations, but with the Taliban’s promises to prevent armed groups such as the extremist Islamic State from settling in the country.

Gannon reported from Islamabad. Associated Press journalist Matt Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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