Joe Biden administration to review US-Taliban agreement
- US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also said the US is committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies and regional partners on a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for the country.
The Joe Biden administration said on Saturday that it will review the US-Taliban agreement signed last year to assess whether the Taliban is delivering on its commitments to cut ties with terror groups and reduce violence in Afghanistan.
The commitment, made by new US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during a phone call to his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib, comes against the backdrop of concern across the region over a surge in violence and targeted assassinations blamed on the Taliban.
Over the past few weeks, Afghan government officials, civil society activists and journalists have been targeted in bombings and attacks in Kabul and other cities across Afghanistan. On January 14, India had called for an immediate stop to the targeted attacks in Afghanistan and sought a comprehensive ceasefire to take forward efforts to usher in peace.
Sullivan “underscored that the US will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire,” said a readout from the US national security council.
He also “made clear the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders”, the readout said.
Among the terror groups active in Afghanistan and having links with the Taliban are al-Qaeda and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). According to a UN report, there are some 6,500 Pakistani fighters active in Afghanistan.
Sullivan told Mohib that the US is committed to the partnership with Afghanistan and to peace for all the people of the country. “He expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this historic opportunity for peace and stability,” the readout said.
The two national security advisors also discussed US support for protecting the “extraordinary gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process”.
India, the largest donor to Afghanistan in the region with pledges worth about $3 billion, has for long said it backs an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-supported peace process that leads to a solution which preserves the gains made over the past two decades.
Sullivan also said the US is committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies and regional partners on a “collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan”.
Mohin said on Twitter that he and Sullivan agreed to work for a “permanent ceasefire and a just and durable peace in a democratic Afghanistan, capable of preserving the gains of the past two decades, protecting the rights of all Afghans, and continuing the reforms”. The two sides, he said, will work closely on security, counter-terrorism and regional engagement.
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He also cited Sullivan as saying that the US partnership with the Afghan government remains essential to US national security objectives.
There was no word from the US and Afghan sides on the drawdown of American forces from Afghanistan. In keeping with former president Donald Trump’s directives, US force levels in Afghanistan are currently down to 2,500, a 19-year low.
There were about 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan when the agreement with the Taliban was inked in Qatar on February 29 last year. The deal called for all American forces to leave the country by May.
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