Trump administration threatens to cut funding to Afghanistan — report
But Afghan leader downplays potential loss of American funds
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Kabul for meetings on Monday, making clear that the White House is prepared to slash $1bn in assistance funding this year and next unless the two sides can broker a deal.
President Ashraf Ghani and his rival, former national chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, have been in peace talks for weeks. But Mr Ghani alleges the changes Mr Abdullah wants would violate the country's constitution and his rival said Mr Pompeo's visit was most fruitless.
According to Associated Press, Mr Pompeo told reporters that he hopes the two Afghan leaders "will get their act together and we won't have to" turn off the funding.
"But we're prepared to do that," he said as the Trump administration tries to use what leverage it has over Kabul.
The threat comes after over 100,000 Afghans earlier this year returned from Iran, where there are 24,811 cases of coronavirus. There are worries inside Afghanistan that its 42 confirmed cases could balloon into a national crisis.
For his part, Mr Ghani downplayed the potential loss of the US aid.
"I can assure you that the reduction of the U.S. assistance would not have a direct impact on the system," he said in a speech.