Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday on "State of the Union" that the Trump administration is still interested in a peace deal with the Taliban, but the President will not let up pressure unless the US sees proof that the Taliban can "behave."
"The American people are demanding it. Now almost two decades and the loss of life," Pompeo said about the war. "There’s no more clear-eyed administration. When I was the director of the CIA, I had young men and women serving in Afghanistan taking enormous risks to their lives and we’re aiming to get this right. We’re working to talk with those leaders that could actually deliver on these outcomes."
TAPPER: I don’t think anyone begrudges the President or Ambassador Khalilzad trying to bring an end to this war that has been going on so long with so many innocent people and so many U.S. service members killed, but I guess the question is why invite the Taliban to Camp David?
POMPEO: We’ve been having conversations. The president believed that we could further that, that we could further America’s national interest by having conversations with the people that have the capacity to actually deliver, Jake, on what you just described. That was the effort, that was the mission, that was the purpose that President Trump has laid out. But I think as you saw, if the Taliban don’t behave, if they don’t deliver on the commitments that they’ve made to us now for weeks and in some cases months, the president of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure, we’re not going to reduce our support for the Afghan Security Forces that have fought so hard there in Afghanistan.
TAPPER: You know, it was just a few weeks ago -- and I’m sure you’re -- you’re well aware of this -- it was just a few weeks ago that the Taliban put out a video in which they supported the 9/11 attacks -- reiterating their support for the 9/11 attacks, blaming it -- blaming the 9/11 attacks on the United States and foreign policy. I guess the question would be here is an organization that still supports 9/11, still believes that the United States was to blame. We brought that on ourselves. Why bring people like that to Camp David? I understand why you want to negotiate for peace, but why bring people like that to Camp David?
POMPEO: Jake we’re trying to get stuff accomplished. The American people are demanding it. Now almost two decades and the loss of life -- when I was with that family last night, amazing patriots, almost the whole family, Sergeant Barreto’s father himself served honorably in the United States Armed Forces.
We have an obligation to do everything we can to protect those men and women and takedown that risk. That’s what President Trump was aiming to do. We understand who the Taliban are. There’s no more clear-eyed administration. When I was the director of the CIA, I had young men and women serving in Afghanistan taking enormous risks to their lives and we’re aiming to get this right. We’re working to talk with those leaders that could actually deliver on these outcomes. That’s what President Trump and I are both focused on and we’re going to keep driving towards that outcome.
TAPPER: A UN Security Council team in July of this year said that Al-Qaeda quote considers Afghanistan a continuing safe-haven for its leadership, relying on its long-standing and strong relationships with the Taliban, unquote. I guess the question I have is you keep talking about President Trump saying he believes that having the Taliban at Camp David along with Afghan President Ghani that he would be able to -- to get this peace negotiations going.
What about you? What did you think? Did you have any problem with the Taliban being invited to Camp David? You’re an Army veteran. I -- I can’t help but think that if a democratic president had talked about having the Taliban come to Camp David to negotiate a peace process that was not already a done deal that you as a congressman, as a -- as a -- as a solider, as a veteran, as a West Point graduate that you would be rather upset.
POMPEO: Yes, Jake, just wrong about that. I’ve been fully supportive of this effort. The direction that we have taken, the State Department, the effort President Trump has given us guidance to go deliver on something that I think is important, it’s valuable. I think the timing is just right. We’ve made enormous progress. I know who the Taliban are and I know who Al-Qaeda is. And I’ve seen that UN report.
I will tell you that they described Al-Qaeda leadership as being happy about the conditions in Afghanistan. Well a lot of them are in their graves and so make no mistake about it, we will continue to punish, we will continue to pound, we will continue to fight, we’ll continue to protect the American people. We will never construct a deal. If I was worried about Barack Obama and President Obama it was because he was prepared to leave without insuring that we could protect America. This administration will never do that.