(TOLO News): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday met with peace negotiators from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban in Doha and discussed the peace process and reduction in violence, a source told TOLOnews, as the United States is preparing for reducing the number of its troops in the country.
Pompeo also met with Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Barad and members of the political office of the group in Qatar. This comes as violence remains high in the country amidst peace efforts. According to the Defense Ministry, violence has expanded to more than 20 provinces of the country. Pompeo is on a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East as US President Donald Trump shores up late-term priorities. Sources familiar with the peace efforts on Friday said negotiators in Doha are close to an agreement on the procedural rules of the negotiations.  Peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi said they expect to include ceasefire as a priority in their agenda once the two sides agree on the procedural rules of the talks.  The two sides of the talks have held more than 10 meetings in small group levels over the procedural rules. Their meetings have halted for more than a month.  Negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban opened in Doha on September 12, but violence continues and even appears to be escalating since then.