KABUL: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Kabul today for talks with Afghan leaders, an Afghan official said, amid renewed optimism for peace in the war-weary country.
The Afghan official confirmed Pompeo’s arrival on the condition of anonymity. A joint press conference with President Ashraf Ghani is due to start shortly. Pompeo’s first official visit to Afghanistan since he was sworn in as America’s top diplomat in April follows an unprecedented ceasefire during Eid last month. The Islamic holiday was marked by spontaneous street celebrations involving Afghan security forces and Taliban militants.
Fighters on both sides expressed a deep fatigue with the grinding conflict, raising hopes that an end to hostilities was possible after 17 years of war that began with the US-led invasion in 2001 that ousted the Taliban from power. But the insurgents refused the government’s request to extend their three-day ceasefire, launching attacks that have seen scores killed or injured.
A security official told AFP that the number of Taliban attacks across the country had fallen since the ceasefire, but the claim could not be verified.