WASHINGTON – CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the United States is going to do everything it can to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Afghanistan, but Pakistan must first deny the militants a safe haven on its soil.
Pompeo said for talks to move ahead, the Taliban must have no hope of winning on the battlefield in Afghanistan, and that means making it no longer possible to cross the Afghan-Pakistani border and hide inside Pakistan.
That strategy was outlined by President Donald Trump this summer as part of his approach to ending the 16-year war, in addition to an incremental increase in U.S. forces there.
Pompeo said in a speech at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, that if history is to be a guide, then very low expectations should be set for Pakistan’s willingness to cooperate with the U.S. in fighting “radical Islamic terrorism.”
He said the U.S. needs to have “a very real conversation with them about what it is they are doing … and the American expectations for how they will behave.”
The U.S., he said, “is going to do everything we can, to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Afghanistan, with the Taliban having zero hope that they can win this thing on the battlefield.”
He added: “To do that you cannot have a safe haven in Pakistan.”
U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye or assisting the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network. Pakistan routinely denies colluding with the militants.
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