Amid stalled talks with Afghanistan and the Taliban this weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected the notion a U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan would lead to another terror vacuum.
"We'll never let that happen," Pompeo forcefully told ABC News "This Week." "We will conduct a mission in Afghanistan in a way that reduces risk to the American people – the right number, the force posture, the nature of the forces, our continued train and assist mission for Afghan forces so they can take the fight to the Taliban so we can get the peace and reconciliation, those are the missions we're setting out.
"The details of the right level of forces, President Trump, the secretary of defense will make good decisions."
Pompeo appeared after President Donald Trump announced a canceled secret meeting this weekend at Camp David with the Taliban after it killed of a U.S. soldier and attempted to use that as "leverage" for the controversial peace talks.
"If you're going to negotiate peace, you have to deal with bad actors," Pompeo told host George Stephanopoulos, when asked about the criticism for bring the Taliban leadership to Camp David, a sacred place for U.S. leaders.
"It's a place where we have thought we could convince all the leaders of Afghanistan as well as the Taliban, we could convince them to head toward better conditions in Afghanistan. It was why the president was willing to go down that direction. He's willing to take risks to do that. He was willing to do that in this case, too, until the Taliban made this terrible decision."
Pompeo noted to Stephanopoulos, a former member of the Clinton administration, any agreement with Afghanistan and the Taliban for peace would have to be made with more than a mere "piece of paper."
"We made progress," Pompeo said. "We had a commitment from the Taliban saying they would break from al-Qaida. They said they would reduce violence. George, you were in an administration that would try to get Afghans to sit at the table. Then the Taliban overreached. They killed an American in an effort to gain leverage. President Trump said enough.
"We were close. We made real progress. Then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments they made. When that happened, President Trump said, 'I'm not going to take that deal and work with someone that can't deliver on their commitments.'
"An agreement is just a piece of paper. We have to see that change in behavior. When we saw this action, when we were closing in on a solution and closing in on opportunity for the president to meet with the decision-makers that can deliver that reconciliation to the Afghan people, President Trump said, 'that's enough; we're not going to reward that behavior,' and broke it off."
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