Pompeo to Meet Taliban Negotiators in Qatar

Doha, Nov 21 (AFP/APP): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Doha Saturday to meet negotiators from the Afghan government and the Taliban, amid signs of progress in their talks as Washington speeds up its withdrawal.

Pompeo’s visit comes in the wake of a rocket attack which struck densely populated areas of Kabul, killing at least eight people in the latest outbreak of violence in the Afghan capital. The Taliban have denied responsibility and no group has claimed the strike.

The State Department said that Pompeo will meet separately with the Afghan government and Taliban negotiation teams in the Qatari capital. He will also see Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and the foreign minister on his stop in Doha, the Taliban’s base for diplomacy. The outgoing top US diplomat is on a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East, as President Donald Trump shores up late-term priorities.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would soon pull some 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline established in a February agreement between Washington and the Taliban that envisions a full US withdrawal in mid-2021.

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