U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration was evaluating the US-Taliban peace settlement and the insurgents’ contribution to the arrangement in his first phone call to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday.
The State Department released a re-reading of the Blinken-Ghani discussion on Thursday afternoon, which reiterates the dedication of the current US administration to a lasting US-Afghanistan relationship.
The Secretary’s statement read that the United States is evaluating the US-Taliban deal of February 2020 and whether the Taliban is living up to its promises to break relations with militant groups, mitigate instability in Afghanistan and participate in substantive talks with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.
“He highlighted strong diplomatic support for the peace process, which aims to help the conflicting parties achieve a sustainable and just political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire which benefits all Afghans,” he added.
The agreement, negotiated in February 2020 by the former US administration, aims to end nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan and contains a formula for the withdrawal by May of this year of all American troops from the war-ravaged region.
But the arrangement also has some provisions that need to be met before the withdrawal, such as ending Taliban attacks on US and Afghan targets. Reservations have been voiced by the US-backed government in Kabul over the Trump administration’s pledge to removing troops from Afghanistan.
Blinken reiterated his wish for all Afghan politicians, according to the statement released on Thursday, to embrace this unprecedented chance for peace while maintaining the gains achieved over the last 20 years in terms of human rights, civil liberties and the status of women in Afghan society.
‘The Secretary has undertaken to work with the Government of Afghanistan, NATO allies and international partners on a joint approach to foster Afghanistan’s prosperous, sovereign, inclusive and safe future,’ the statement continued.
On several occasions, the Biden administration has confirmed that although aiming to achieve stability in Afghanistan, it would study the peace deal negotiated with the Taliban, reflecting on whether the militant group, in compliance with its side of the agreement, has minimised attacks in Afghanistan.
Within 135 days of signing the pact, the US committed itself to reducing the number of its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 and to collaborating with its allies to decrease the number of coalition forces in Afghanistan proportionately during the same span. There are 2,500 US troops currently in Afghanistan.
However, despite the two sides having been engaged in those talks since September, instability across Afghanistan has surged.