The Biden administration says if the Taliban does not live up to their commitments under the 2020 deal, it’s hard to see a way forward.
The administration of US President Joe Biden finds it difficult to see a way forward for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan without the group fulfilling its commitments under a deal last year, but Washington has remained committed to the effort, the Pentagon said Thursday.
“Without them fulfilling their commitments to renounce terrorism and end the violent attacks against the Afghan national security forces … it is very difficult to see a specific path for the negotiated settlement, but we are still committed to this” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.
He added that no decision had been taken regarding the future of troops in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday, stressing “strong diplomatic support for the peace process” to achieve a political settlement and a military ceasefire for the benefit of all Afghans, according to US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Blinken told Ghani that the United States was reviewing the agreement signed in February 2020 between the United States and the Taliban, in order to assess whether the Taliban was fulfilling its commitments to “cut ties with terrorist groups, reduce violence in Afghanistan and engage in negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders, ”Price said.
The secretary called it a “historic opportunity for peace”, but said the progress of the past 20 years on “human rights, civil liberties and the role of women” should be preserved.
The Taliban signed the deal with the United States in Doha last February, with talks with the Afghan government scheduled to begin soon after, but the Taliban refused to meet with government officials for months and did not end the violent attacks.
Blinken said the US envoy who negotiated the deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, will remain in its role.
The United States has already withdrawn thousands of troops from Afghanistan under the agreement with all troops expected to leave the country by May. In the deal, the Taliban promised to sever ties with Al Qaeda and not to allow any group of fighters to use its soil to attack the United States.
A memorandum from the US Treasury Department to the Department of Defense said: “From 2020, al-Qaeda is gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under Taliban protection.”
He also said, “Al Qaeda maintains close contact with the Taliban, providing advice, guidance and financial support.”
Donald Trump ordered the number of American troops in Afghanistan to be reduced to 2,500 on January 15, just before leaving office.