LAHORE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said the Taliban must show “demonstrable evidence” that it is working to reduce violence in Afghanistan before the United States would sign a deal leading to a troop withdrawal.

While speaking at a news conference in Uzbekistan, Pompeo said the two sides are close to a deal, but the Taliban needs to show it is serious about bringing peace to the war-torn country.

“We’re working on a peace and reconciliation plan, putting the commas in the right place, getting the sentences right,” Pompeo said, noting that the two sides have been close to coming to an agreement in the past only to have efforts spoiled by the militant group.

“We got close once before to having an agreement: a piece of paper that we mutually executed and the Taliban were unable to demonstrate either their will or capacity or both to deliver on a reduction in violence,” Pompeo said.

“So, what we are demanding now is demonstrable evidence of their will and capacity to reduce violence, to take down the threat, so the inter-Afghan talks ... will have a less violent context,” he said. “We’re hopeful we can achieve that, but we’re not there yet, and work certainly remains.”

Pompeo’s remarks come a week after an Air Force E-11A reconnaissance plane crashed in a Taliban-held area of Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed it shot down the jet, although the U.S. said there is no indication that is true.

“The recent battlefield victories of the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan against the air force of the Americans are a proof that with the passage of time, more losses will be inflicted on the invaders and this time they will no longer be able to use their air supremacy like they have been using it for the past two decades,” the Taliban said in a statement.  US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been meeting with the Taliban in Qatar, said that he is hopeful about reducing violence with the Taliban, but he told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a recent visit that there has been “no noticeable progress” in negotiations with the militants.