The United States has accused Afghanistan’s government of failing to fight corruption and cut more than USD 160 million in direct funding. “We stand against those who exploit their positions of power and influence to deprive the Afghan people of the benefits of foreign assistance and a more prosperous future,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Pompeo said that the United States was suspending work with the Afghan body in charge of monitoring corruption as it is “incapable of being a partner. Afghan leaders who fail to meet this standard should be held accountable”.
Pompeo said the United States was taking back USD 100 million committed for a major energy project, saying that Washington would instead fund it directly rather than sending the money to Afghan authorities.
Earlier, at least 16 people were killed in a massive blast claimed by the Taliban in Kabul. The Taliban have continued bloody assaults on civilians and security forces.
The United States in the negotiations has also sought Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will no longer be a launching pad for terror attacks such as the September 11, 2001, attack on the US by al-Qaida. The Taliban government had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Some 20,000 US and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan after formally ending their combat role in 2014.
Fearing a return to power of the hardline Taliban, many worry the deal and subsequent negotiations will lead to a reduction in personal freedoms and limited women’s rights that modern Afghans have grown accustomed to.
US troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda, which was sheltered by the former Taliban regime. Washington now wants to end its military involvement—the longest in its history—and has been talking to the Taliban since at least 2018.