March 5, 2019 / 8:38 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. declines to elaborate on Pompeo labelling Taliban terrorists

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department spokesman on Tuesday declined to elaborate on a comment by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday in which he called the Afghan Taliban terrorists.

“The secretary’s words speak for themselves and I am not going to go beyond that,” spokesman Robert Palladino told a briefing. He said U.S. and Taliban representatives currently are meeting in Doha.

Speaking to a group of students in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, Pompeo said: “I have a team on the ground right now trying to negotiate with the Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan.”

The United States has not declared the Taliban a terrorist organisation.

Palladino said the peace talks in Doha are making progress but more work needed to be done to reach an agreement.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Lisa Lambert and Paul Simao

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