Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Two US service personnel killed in Afghanistan

The killings occurred a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a visit to Kabul

US troops seen near a Afghan National Army  checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province west of Kabul. Two servicemen were killed in Afghanistan on June 25. AFP
US troops seen near a Afghan National Army  checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province west of Kabul. Two servicemen were killed in Afghanistan on June 25. AFP

Two American service members were killed on Wednesday in Afghanistan, the US military said.

The killings occurred a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a quick visit to the Afghan capital of Kabul, where he said Washington was hopeful of reaching a peace deal before September.

It’s not clear if the deaths were the result of the war, which at almost 18 years is America’s longest-running.

More than 2,400 US service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the US-led coalition invaded in October 2001 to overthrow the Taliban and hunt down Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass arrive in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. AFP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass arrive in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. AFP

Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s protracted war accelerated last year with the appointment of US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. He will begin a fresh round of direct talks with the Taliban on Saturday in Qatar, where the Islamist movement maintains a political office.

Mr Khalilzad has held a series of meetings in Kabul as well in an effort to reschedule an Afghan-to-Afghan round of talks, which were scuppered earlier this year because neither side could agree on participants.

The Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling them US puppets, but have said they would talk with politicians if they arrive at the meeting in a personal capacity, as ordinary Afghans.

Before leaving Afghanistan for India, Mr Pompeo on Tuesday underscored Mr Khalilzad’s strategy in the talks, which involves four interconnected issues: counterterrorism, foreign troop presence, inter-Afghan dialogue and a permanent ceasefire.

The US military statement announcing the killings of the US personnel was a terse two-paragraph announcement. It also said the identities of the soldiers would not be released until their families had been notified.

Updated: June 26, 2019 11:36 AM

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