Pompeo congratulates Afghan President Ghani and Abdullah on power-sharing deal

Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 17 (PTI) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday congratulated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah on signing a power-sharing deal after months of a bitter dispute over the results of last year's presidential election that pushed the country into a political crisis.

As per the deal, Ghani will stay as the president, while Abdullah will helm the High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR) with executive authority and his team will have a 50 per cent share in the cabinet, according to Afghan media reports.

The HCNR has been mandated to lead future peace talks including with the Taliban. Abdullah served as the chief executive in the previous government led by Ghani.

'The Political Agreement between President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has just been signed. Dr. Abdullah will lead the National Reconciliation High Council and members of his team will be included in the cabinet,' Sediq Sediqqi, Spokesperson for the President of Afghanistan, tweeted.

Expressing happiness over the development, Pompeo on Sunday, in a tweet, said, “glad to hear from Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah about their agreement on inclusive governance. We welcome their commitment to act now for peace in Afghanistan.” Pompeo spoke with Ghani and Abdullah on Monday and congratulated the two leaders for reaching an agreement on inclusive governance for Afghanistan, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.

“Pompeo noted that he regretted the time lost during the political impasse. He reiterated that the priority for the US remains a political settlement to end the conflict and welcomed the commitment by the two leaders to act immediately in support of prompt entry into intra-Afghan negotiations,” Ortagus said in a statement.

After months of political uncertainty, Ghani was sworn in as the Afghan president for a second term on March 9, but Abdullah also declared himself as the president by holding his own oath-taking ceremony the same day.

The power-sharing agreement between Ghani and Abdullah came over two-and-half months after the US inked a peace deal with the Taliban, providing for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and effectively drawing curtains to Washington's 18-year war in the country.

The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001. PTI LKJ RS RS