The Biden administration says it will review last year’s US-Taliban agreement under which American forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees.
Pakistan played a key role in facilitating the start of reconciliation talks between warring Afghan parties that led to the peace agreement.
According to a White House statement, Biden’s newly appointed National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, informed his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib about the “United States’ intention to review” the deal in a phone call on Friday.
Sullivan said that the review would 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.”
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The White House statement said Sullivan underscored that the U.S. 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.
Mohib, for his part, wrote in a tweet that during the phone call the two sides had “agreed to work toward a permanent ceasefire and a just and durable peace” in Afghanistan.
The US reached a deal with the Taliban in February last year on the withdrawal of 12,000 US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s halting of their attacks on American forces.
Under the deal, the former President Donald Trump’s administration promised to bring the number of US forces in Afghanistan to zero by May 2021.
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Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives are set to resume the second round of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on the Biden administration to follow up on the ongoing Afghan peace process and American troops’ withdrawal from the country.
“I think they [Biden administration] should realize there is an opportunity in Afghanistan and they should persevere with what was initiated and not reverse things,” Qureshi told Qatar’s Al Jazeera television.
“Push them forward, because, after a long time, we have started moving in the right direction.”
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Qureshi also expressed Pakistan’s readiness to help expedite the peace process between the two sides.
“We are concerned because we feel violence can vitiate the climate,” Qureshi said. “Pakistan has done a lot, we have really bent backward to create an environment to facilitate the peace process.”