Although the Taliban and Afghan governments opened peace talks in Doha last year, violence in Afghanistan has exploded.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has urged US President Joe Biden’s new administration to step up pressure on the Taliban and not rush to withdraw more troops.
Ghani said the Taliban failed to abide by terms agreed to in their February 2020 deal with the United States to curb attacks in Afghanistan and sever long-standing ties with al Qaeda.
“The United States and NATO must take a very strong stance on the conditions-based approach,” Ghani said Friday in an online speech at the Aspen Security Forum.
“They signed an agreement; this agreement must now be implemented.
Even though Taliban and Afghan government negotiators opened peace talks in Doha, Qatar last year, violence in Afghanistan has exploded.
Ghani said the Taliban had to admit attacking government forces and carrying out a series of assassinations of public figures.
The Taliban exploited former US President Donald Trump’s rush to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan to continue attacking government forces, Ghani suggested.
After last year’s US-Taliban deal, US officials assured Kabul “that there will be a ceasefire or a very substantial reduction in violence,” Ghani said.
“Instead, the violence has peaked,” he said.
And rather than pursuing good faith peace talks, he added, “the Taliban are finding one excuse after another not to meet.”
Ghani said he spoke to new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday and was assured the Biden administration would look into the issues by sending a new team to Afghanistan and consult more closely with Kabul.
“We could not be more pleased with the focused and systematic early attention and dialogue between two partners who have sacrificed each other and have a mutual interest,” he said.
The Taliban believe they have defeated the United States and that NATO forces in Afghanistan are “on the run,” Ghani said.
“From now on, robust diplomacy and a position on conditions-based approaches will hopefully allow us all to resume a constructive discussion,” he added.
The United States has about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, up from nearly 13,000 a year ago.
In the Trump administration’s withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, the United States was supposed to withdraw all of its troops by May 2021 in return for security promises from fighters.
Ghani said US forces should stay, without specifying how many. He said he expected Biden to make “the right decision.”
“NATO without American facilitators cannot continue its mission,” he said.
If the “Taliban realize that they can win with violence, they will not let go,” he added.
“A combination of presence and diplomacy, bringing America’s tools of power in a concentrated fashion… would be extremely crucial to our success,” Ghani said.