US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the country yesterday in a bid to secure a breakthrough. The Afghan government and the Taliban have not begun formal negotiations as planned, hampered by disagreement over the release of prisoners and the feud between Ghani and Abdullah.

A senior State Department official said the purpose of Secretary Pompeo’s visit was to try to mediate a solution between the two men.

“The fear is that unless this crisis gets resolved…soon, that could affect the peace process… Our agreement with the Talibs could be put at risk.”

The US and Nato have already begun to withdraw some troops from Afghanistan.

The final pull out of US forces is not dependent on the success of intra-Afghan negotiations but rather on promises made by the Taliban to deny space in Afghanistan to other terror groups, such as the insurgents’ rival, the so-called Islamic State group.

US troop numbers in Afghanistan will fall from 12,000 to 8,600.

But Ministry of Defence sources could only confirm a “couple of hundred” of British troops will be leaving Afghanistan in the next few months. There are 1,100 serving in the country.

All US troops will leave Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban meet conditions set out in the agreement signed in Doha last month.

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