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Pompeo warns Taliban against attacking Americans following 'Russia bounties' report

Pompeo made the comments on Tuesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 June, 2020

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The State Department has warned the Taliban against targeting Americans in the country, amid outrage over alleged Russian rewards to attack US soldiers.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned the Taliban against attacks on Americans, the State Department said Tuesday, amid outrage over alleged Russian bounties to target US troops.

In a telephone call on Monday with Taliban negotiator Mullah Baradar, Pompeo "made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans," a State Department statement said.

Pompeo was speaking about the implementation of a February 29 agreement between the Taliban and the United States, which has started withdrawing troops as part of President Donald Trump's bid to end America's longest war. 

US officials say that the Taliban has abided by terms not to attack the US-led coalition. 

But it has kept up violence against Afghan government forces, casting a cloud over attempts to start talks between the two sides on a peace settlement. 

The Taliban earlier provided an account of the call, saying that Baradar told Pompeo that the guerrillas "do not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against the US and other countries."

Washington has been rattled by reports, initially in The New York Times, that Trump was briefed over US intelligence that a Russian spy unit had offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill US troops. 

Trump has insisted that he was not briefed but lawmakers of the rival Democratic Party and even some Republicans have demanded further explanations.

During a virtual town hall on Saturday, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden said The New York Times report, if true, represents a “shocking revelation”.

“Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” Biden said, referring to the Russian president.

Biden pledged retaliation if he becomes president.

“If I’m elected president, make no mistake about it, Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we’ll impose serious costs on Russia,” Biden said.

The rewards purportedly gave incentives to the guerrillas to target US forces, amid Trump's attempts to withdraw troops - meeting one of the militants' key demands - and end America's longest war.

The NYT, citing anonymous officials, said that Trump was briefed on the findings in March, but has not decided how to respond.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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