Pompeo asks Taliban 'not to attack Americans' amid reports Russia paid militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan

Secretary of State Mike PompeoAndrew Harnik, File via AP
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the Taliban "not to attack Americans" in a call with the insurgent group, he revealed in a tweet Tuesday.
  • The call comes amid a flurry of reports that President Donald Trump was briefed on intelligence that Russia was paying Taliban-linked militants secret bounties to target US and coalition forces.
  • Trump has denied that he was ever briefed, a claim that has shocked former intelligence community members.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday afternoon that he asked the Taliban "not to attack Americans" in a chat that followed reports that Russia paid Taliban-linked militants secret bounties to kill US and coalition troops.

"Spoke yesterday with the Taliban chief negotiator to press the Taliban to live up to their commitments under the US -Taliban Agreement, including not to attack Americans," Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

US and Taliban negotiators signed a historic deal in late February meant to set the stage for the end of the conflict in Afghanistan, America's longest-running war.Advertisement

The US agreed to begin withdrawing troops as long as the Taliban lived up to its end of the accord, to which the Afghan government was not a part.

While attacks on US troops are down, the Taliban has continued to launch deadly attacks against Afghan security forces. Despite continued violence, the US has drastically reduced its military presence. The reduction has come even as senior Pentagon leaders expressed concerns about the Taliban's commitment to the agreement.

A Taliban spokesman tweeted Tuesday that the call with Pompeo focused on the "implementation of the agreement, foreign troop withdrawal, prisoner release, start of intra-Afghan dialogue and reduction in (military) operations," the Associated Press reported.
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Pompeo's discussion with the Taliban's chief negotiator comes amid a flurry of reports, from The New York Times in particular, that Russia's military intelligence agency known as the GRU offered secret bounties to Taliban-linked militants to target US and coalition forces.

US officials reportedly learned of the Russia's actions through interrogations and intercepted financial data showing transfers between the GRU and Taliban-linked accounts.The New York Times, along with other outlets, reports that President Donald Trump was briefed on intelligence that Russia was engaged in such malign activity earlier this year. The president and the White House have denied Trump was ever briefed because the intelligence had not been verified, claims that shocked former members of the intelligence community.Advertisement

The Pentagon said in a statement Monday night that it "has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports."

The department emphasized that it will "always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan — and around the world — most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats."

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