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Pompeo tells Taliban 'not to attack Americans'

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger McEnany appears on Fox in 'personal capacity' as Trump campaign adviser US signs satellite data-sharing pact with India, warns of Chinese threats MORE on Tuesday said he spoke with the Taliban’s chief negotiator, telling him that the U.S. expects the group “not to attack Americans,” following reports that Russia paid the Taliban bounties to kill U.S. soldiers.

“Spoke yesterday with the Taliban chief negotiator to press the Taliban to live up to their commitments under the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, including not to attack Americans,” the secretary wrote on Twitter. 

The call follows outcry from lawmakers and pressure on President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE to explain what he knew and how he responded to intelligence reports that the Russian government was offering incentives to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition service members in Afghanistan. 

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The Washington Post reported that the Russian bounties led to deaths of American soldiers.

The Russian government has denied these allegations. 

A spokesman for the Taliban said that chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has reiterated its pledge not to strike against the U.S. and denies that its fighters received any Russian bounties, Al Jazeera reported.

Baradar also reportedly told Pompeo that the Taliban does not allow “anyone to use Afghan soil against the U.S. and other countries,” Al Jazeera quoted Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen as writing on Twitter.

The call follows efforts by the U.S. to promote intra-Afghan negotiations on a peace deal that would normalize the Taliban’s role in Afghan politics.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for negotiations with Afghanistan, is traveling in the region and promoting these efforts, with stops in Qatar, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.