Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Taliban’s top political leader on Monday against attacking Americans in Afghanistan amid reports that Russia offered bounties to the militant group for the killing of U.S. soldiers.
The call between Pompeo and Mullah Baradar, a readout of which was distributed by the State Department on Tuesday, follows the White House’s denial on Monday that the president was briefed on the bounty reports and the Trump administration’s insistence that the intelligence was not conclusive.
Trump himself wrote on Twitter that “intel” — he did not specify which intelligence official or agency — had informed him that the bounty intelligence was not credible.
“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met via video conference yesterday with Taliban Deputy and chief negotiator Mullah Baradar to discuss implementation of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus wrote in a Tuesday afternoon statement. “The Secretary made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans.”
In February, the United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban that would see all American troops withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2021 if the Taliban met certain commitments.
The New York Times first reported last weekend that Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to the Taliban to kill coalition soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Times and The Washington Post have also reported that the Russian bounties resulted in the deaths of U.S. troops and that recent American combat fatalities are now under review.
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