US welcomes Afghan power-sharing deal, urges political settlement
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed a power-sharing deal signed Sunday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah and pressed for a political settlement to end surging militant violence.
“Secretary Pompeo congratulated the two leaders for reaching an agreement on inclusive governance for Afghanistan,” Pompeo’s spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
She added that Pompeo “regretted the time lost” during a bitter months-long feud that plunged the country into a political crisis.
“He reiterated that the priority for the United States remains a political settlement to end the conflict and welcomed the commitment by the two leaders to act immediately in support of prompt entry into intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement added.
Sunday’s breakthrough sees Abdullah heading peace talks with the Taliban, as Afghanistan struggles with a rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus and brutal attacks that saw dozens killed last week.
Experts hope the agreement will help put Afghanistan on the road to greater stability.
Abdullah served as Afghanistan’s “chief executive” under an earlier power-sharing arrangement, but lost that post after he was defeated in a presidential election that incumbent Ghani—a former World Bank economist—won in September amid claims of fraud.
Abdullah, an ophthalmologist, declared himself president and held his own swearing-in ceremony on March 9, the day Ghani was re-installed as president.