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Pompeo offers no details on potential future meeting between Trump and Taliban leaders

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview Sunday did not reveal any details of a potential historic meeting between President Donald Trump and leaders of the Taliban.

Trump said during a news conference a day earlier that he would meet with leaders from the militant group “in the not too distant future” following the signing earlier Saturday of a historic agreement between the US and the Taliban which sets into motion the potential of a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and could pave the way to ending America’s longest-fought war.

Asked Sunday by CBS’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” about when and where such a session will happen and whether it would be at Camp David, Pompeo said, “I don’t know when. I don’t know where. I’m very confident. President Trump wants to make sure that everyone in Afghanistan understands that the United States is committed to making sure that this conversation take place.”

“There’s a better path forward. The Taliban now know this because of the work that we’ve done. And President Trump will be actively engaged in helping us get the conditions right and beginning this journey that the first step was taken in Doha yesterday,” Pompeo said, noting that the US has been in Afghanistan “for an awful long time.”

Last September, a planned meeting at Camp David between Trump and Taliban leaders to conduct secret talks was canceled just days before it was scheduled to occur. It was scrapped after the Taliban claimed an attack that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.

Pompeo became the first US Cabinet official to ever meet with a member of the Taliban on Saturday while in Doha for the signing of the US-Taliban agreement. The secretary said he met with the senior Taliban negotiator during the trip.

Asked during his CBS interview about his prior comments calling the Taliban terrorists and whether he still considered them that, Pompeo responded: “They have an enormous amount of American blood on their hands.”

He said he didn’t automatically trust the Taliban to live up to its commitments in the agreement to break its relationship with al Qaeda, so the US will need to have verification of that.

“Don’t trust anything. We’re going to deliver. It’s about actions. The agreement set out the conditions. It set out the space, but no this deal doesn’t depend upon trusting anyone,” he said. “It has a deep, complex, well-thought out, multi-month, negotiated, verification complex and mechanism by which we can observe and hold every member of the agreement accountable. We’ll do that.”

The “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” outlines a series of commitments from the US and the Taliban related to troop levels, counterterrorism, and the intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at bringing about “a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

Among other things, the four-page agreement states that the Taliban will take steps “to prevent any group or individual, including al-Qa’ida, from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.” Those steps include commitments that the Taliban will instruct its members “not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies” and that it “will prevent any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies, and will prevent them from recruiting, training, and fundraising and will not host them in accordance with the commitments in this agreement.”

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