U.S. handled bounty matter correctly regarding force protection – Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a news conference about dealings with China and Iran, and on the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2020. Mangel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS/Files
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States handled reported intelligence that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban-affiliated militants to kill U.S. soldiers correctly in terms of the protection of U.S. troops, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
However, speaking to reporters, Pompeo did not explicitly confirm the intelligence, which has been widely reported in the media, nor did he address whether U.S. President Donald Trump was made aware of it.
After Trump initially said he was not briefed on the matter, the White House said Trump was not “personally” briefed but did not address whether he had received a written report, read it, and why he had not responded more aggressively if so.
“I can assure you that whatever reporting it is that you are referring to, that we responded in precisely the correct way with respect to making sure that our forces were postured appropriately, that they were aware of the level of the threat, the credibility of the threat,” Pompeo told reporters.
He also said that Russia has been acting in ways contrary to U.S. interests in Afghanistan for a decade, including by selling small arms that put U.S. soldiers at risk. He said it was up to Trump whether to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to a Group of Seven (G7) summit, saying that Russia caused problems when it was in the group, still presents risks and he believed it was important to have more frequent dealings with Moscow.