US slashes aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion amid leadership feud

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement after a surprise visit to Kabul. He said the inability of Afghanistan's two rival leaders to reach a power-sharing deal threatened US interests.

The United States on Monday announced it was cutting aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion (€930 million) after the country’s two rival leaders failed to come up with a power-sharing deal.

The news comes after the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unanounced visit to Kabul to meet with Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom declared themselves president after last year’s elections.

Pompeo added that the US is prepared to cut another $1 billion in 2021.

After a day-long mediation, Pompeo called out the two leaders for failing to work together and risking a peace deal with the Taliban.

He said that the US is “disappointed” in Ghani and Abdullah and that they had “harmed” US-Afghanistan relations.

He added that their conduct “dishonors those Afghan, American, and coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country.”

Leadership squabble a ‘direct threat’

Pompeo said that the failure of the two leaders to work together poses a “direct threat” to the national interests of the US.

“We have made clear to the leadership that we will not back security operations that are politically motivated, nor support political leaders who order such operations or those who advocate for or support parallel government,” Pompeo said.

The top US diplomat added that the Trump administration will initiate review of “the scope of cooperation” with Afghanistan.

“We will also initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan,” he said.

US goes ahead with troop withdrawal

Pompeo later met with the Taliban in Doha after leaving Kabul. He said that Ghani and Abdullah were not acting in full accordance with last month’s landmark US-Taliban peace deal that is meant to put an end to the US’ longest-running conflict.

Pompeo talked about the delay in intra-Afghan peace talks, the nominations for the non-Taliban delegation and an agreed prisoner swap, all of which was a part of the deal.

He announced that Washington will go ahead with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, as agreed upon with the Taliban.

The deal calls for a reduction of US forces from approximately 13,000 to 8,600 soldiers.

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