US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to sign a peace deal between the US and the Taliban, TIME reported Wednesday.
The agreement aims to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and end the unpopular war, but, according to TIME, contains no guarantee that the Taliban will leave the US-backed Afghan government in place or reduce violence in the world’s most dangerous country.
The Taliban reportedly asked Pompeo to sign an agreement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name it gave itself when it came to power in Afghanistan in 1996. Doing so would mean Pompeo would be recognizing the legitimacy of the Taliban.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US’s envoy in the Taliban talks, has worked with Taliban envoys over months in Qatar to take steps toward the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. According to TIME, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was supposed to discuss the deal with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday. If the deal is signed, 5,400 US troops would leave Afghanistan within 135 days.
But TIME reports that the deal doesn’t guarantee the survival of the US-supported Afghan government, which the Taliban considers a puppet government and which the US expects the Taliban to negotiate with in Oslo after a deal is completed.
Even if an Afghan government should survive, its relationship to the US will be permanently damaged after the negotiation, TIME reports. While Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has publicly agreed to the negotiations and will send a delegation to Oslo to deal with the Taliban, the US envoy Khalilzad refuses to show him a draft of the agreement.
“It is all based on hope. There is no trust. There is no history of trust. There is no evidence of honesty and sincerity from the Taliban,” an Afghan official with knowledge of the negotiation told TIME’s Kimberly Dozier. According to the official, the Taliban “think they have fooled the U.S. while the U.S. believes that should the Taliban cheat, they will pay a hefty price.”