Pompeo accelerating plan to downsize US Embassy in Kabul: report

Pompeo accelerating plan to downsize US Embassy in Kabul: report
© Stefani Reynolds

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoJudge rules American-born woman who joined ISIS not a US citizen Human rights: Help or hindrance to toppling dictators? The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing MORE is accelerating plans to downsize the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan by up to half, Reuters reported Thursday.

Pompeo's order to cut the U.S.'s largest diplomatic mission in Kabul comes roughly a year earlier than expected amidst faltering talks with the Taliban.

The drawdown “is starting as soon as May 31 and they want to have it done by September,” one congressional aide told Reuters.

ADVERTISEMENT

The State Department has reportedly been considering cutting embassy staff in Afghan capital for some time.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the agency “regularly reviews our presence at our overseas missions to reflect changing circumstances and our policy goals.”

"The United States will continue to maintain a robust diplomatic and development presence in Kabul capable of advancing our objectives in partnership with the government and people of Afghanistan," the spokesperson added. "Future staffing at Embassy Kabul will reflect the priorities outlined by the President."

The heavily fortified compound has about 1,500 staff members with 700 beds for staff.

A U.S. official told Reuters that cuts should be seen as part of a global redistribution of U.S. diplomats required by the Trump administration’s national security strategy shift toward Russia and China.

Some are worried that the reduction could strain relations with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

Ghani “would see this as another step in a betrayal,” Thomas Lynch, a U.S. National Defense University fellow focused on Afghanistan and former adviser to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters.

Updated 12:20 p.m.