The Taliban reaffirmed their commitment to a February deal to draw down the war in Afghanistan during a call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the group’s spokesman has said.
Taliban deny rumours and seek to reaffirm commitment to US deal
The discussion came as US President Donald Trump faces mounting pressure to explain why he did nothing after being reportedly told that Russian spies had offered and paid cash to Taliban-linked militants for killing American soldiers.
The Taliban have denied that their fighters received any Russian bounties, and the group’s Qatar-based chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar reiterated their pledge not to strike against the US.
Read more: The rocky road of US-Taliban peace agreement
Baradar told Pompeo that “according to the agreement, we do not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against the US and other countries”, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Monday in a statement on Twitter.
Threats to the deal between Taliban and US
The New York Times, citing anonymous officials had reported last week that Trump had been told about the alleged Russian bounties but he did nothing in response.
Trump denied being informed of the assessment while the White House said the claim had been kept from him because the intelligence underpinning it was unverified.
But another report from the Times on Monday said the president had received a report about the alleged Russian bounties as early as February.
The United States signed a historic peace deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar,that officials hope will mark the beginning of the end of America’s longest war. Under the deal, all U.S. troops would withdraw from Afghanistan in 14 months.
— M A J I D (@mpakiiprince) March 1, 2020
That month, the United States had pledged to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by mid-2021 in return for security guarantees in a bid to pave the way for negotiations between warring sides.
Taliban eager to end US-led war in Afghanistan
The militant organization situated in Afghanistan shows eagerness to aid US in its plans of clearing out troops from the war-torn country. With less reported incidents of violence, the Taliban can be clearly seen as cooperating with US and shows no signs of indulging in militant activities that may hamper the progress made between the two parties.
Under the landmark agreement, which excluded the Afghan government, Washington and the militants said they would refrain from attacking each other.
living in Iran. Regarding intra-Afghan negotiations, Mullah Baradar said, we are committed to all provisions of the Agreement. Whenever our prisoners’ release is completed, we are ready for commencement of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
— Suhail Shaheen (@suhailshaheen1) June 30, 2020
The Taliban spokesman said Baradar and Pompeo discussed concerns about the deal, including intra-Afghan talks and the release of 5,000 imprisoned insurgents.
US calls on Taliban to do more
“We are committed to starting intra-Afghan talks,” Baradar told Pompeo, blaming the hold-up on the delayed release of prisoners, according to Shaheen. The Afghan government in Kabul has said it has freed nearly 4,000 Taliban prisoners so far in a bid to kick-start the negotiations.
Pompeo acknowledged the Taliban had refrained from attacking urban centers and military bases under the deal, but called on them to do more to reduce overall violence, according to Shaheen.
Violence had dropped across much of the country after the Taliban offered a brief ceasefire to mark the Islamic Eid al-Fitr festival last month, but officials say the insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent weeks.
Most attacks by the Taliban have targeted Afghan security forces, although there are regular police reports that civilians have been killed in roadside bomb blasts.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
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