Pompeo: The Taliban’s Position Is ‘About to Get Worse’ After Aborted Talks

'In the last ten days we've killed over 1,000 Taliban'

• September 8, 2019 11:55 am


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "conditions are about to get worse" for the Taliban in Afghanistan after President Donald Trump called off a meeting between Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, Taliban leaders, and the United States.

"We're going to make sure that everyone in the region understands that America will always protect its national security interests," he said.

Pompeo emphasized that the objective was to get a deal that would have both sides stand back and reduce violence, and that would require the Taliban to make a public announcement that it's breaking ties with al Qaeda.

"We're not going to withdraw our forces without making sure we achieve President Trump's twin objectives," Pompeo said. "Any reduction in our forces will be based on actual conditions, not commitments, actual conditions on the ground."

"If you're the Taliban, conditions have been worsening. They're about to get worse," he added.

Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd asked if this means the United States would increase military activity against the Taliban. Pompeo warned that no one "should underestimate President Trump's commitment" to achieving his goals in the country, and he informed Todd that U.S. forces recently killed more than 1,000 Taliban fighters.

"You should know, in the last ten days we've killed over a thousand Taliban," Pompeo said. "While this is not a war of attrition, I want the American people to know that President Trump is taking it to the Taliban, in an effort to make sure that we protect American interests."

"You've got to get a deal," Pompeo added, arguing that they had made progress until the Taliban's recent attack made Trump call off negotiations. Trump said the Kabul car bombing was the Taliban's attempt to improve its negotiating position, a tactic he found unacceptable.

Todd also asked Pompeo if talks were permanently off after Saturday's abrupt cancellation.

"For the time being that's absolutely the case," Pompeo responded.

"We have an obligation to reduce risk, and at the same time we cannot permit terror to strike again from Afghanistan here into the United States," he continued. "Our negotiations have been aimed at achieving each of those objectives and reducing violence."

Todd then asked Pompeo about whether or not the Afghan government was the first to pull out of the negotiations, which Pompeo said was false.

"That [Taliban attack] was something President Trump can never stand for," Pompeo said. "We informed both President Ghani and our Taliban interlocutors that these meetings will not take place."

Todd pointed out that the Taliban had been killing American soldiers throughout the process, asking why this wasn't a problem before.

"It's always a problem any time the Taliban conduct terror attacks, certainly when they injure Americans or kill Americans," Pompeo said.