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US has not cut $1 billion aid to Afghanistan despite Pompeo vow of immediate slash: report

21 May 2020 1TV News

The US Defense Department has not withheld $1 billion in funding from Afghan security forces despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's vow on March 23 to cut that sum "immediately", Reuters reported on Thursday.

The Pentagon has been reluctant to shave the funds and Defense Secretary Mark Esper has not provided guidance to his agency on how to carry it out, the report said.

It was unclear why the cut has not been made, whether President Donald Trump’s administration may have decided not to reduce the funding - no such policy change has been announced - or if there was some disconnect between the State and Defense Departments.

A Pentagon spokesman did not directly address why the cuts had not been made immediately, and said that the State and Defense Departments were working on how to carry them out.

“Secretary Esper supports the Department of State efforts to encourage the Afghanistan government to move forward with the inter-Afghan peace process,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Campbell.

An unnamed US official cited in the report said while the Pentagon was concerned about the cut Esper and senior department officials had signed off on Pompeo’s decision.

“There have been no reductions of any funding for this year,” said a congressional aide. “As far as I can tell, it was a food fight between State and DoD ... DoD continues to say ‘we have received no guidance.’”

Pompeo had announced the aid cut as he flew home after being frustrated in his efforts to persuade Afghan leaders to form a power-sharing government during a trip to Kabul.

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