U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced a $1 billion cut in U.S. aid to Afghanistan after the countrys rival leaders failed to agree on forming a new government.
The decision was made after Pompeos urgent visit to Kabul on Monday where he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. They have both contested the result of Septembers presidential election, raising the prospect of parallel governments as each declared themselves president of the country.
Pompeo had hoped to break the deadlock but was unable to, with Ghani and Abdullah informing him that “that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens,” according to a State Department statement.
The political feud between the rival Afghan politicians has stalled the selection of negotiating teams expected to be completed by March 10 for intra-Afghan talks based on the two separate agreements between the United States and Taliban and the United States and Afghanistan.
The failure to resolve the Afghan government crisis “disappointed” the United States, “harmed U.S.-Afghan relations,” and represents “a direct threat to U.S. national interests,” the statement says. The U.S. government therefore reduced the aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion this year and could also reduce it by another $1 billion next year, with the United States unwilling to support parallel governments, according to the statement.
Additional reductions of other programs and projects are also possible. The U.S. government “will initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan,” the statement says.
The statement also criticized Afghan leaders for not being able to establish “an inclusive national team for intra-Afghan negotiations, to facilitate prisoner release by Afghanistan and Taliban, and to achieve permanent ceasefire.” However, there have not been attacks on American forces since the peace agreement between the United States and Taliban was signed over three weeks ago, Pompeo said after returning from Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, in a speech carried by Afghan broadcaster RTA, Ghani said the cut in aid would not affect key areas, and further discussions would be held to resolve the issue with Abdullah, according to Reuters.
“I met with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah … and wanted to offer him a central role in the peace process and positions in the cabinet to his allies but he emphasized an amendment of the constitution,” Ghani said, adding the amendment was “impossible.”
Pompeo declined to detail how the $1 billion in aid cuts would be apportioned or whether he set a deadline to settle their dispute, or if there is any timeline set forRead More – Source