US-Taliban deal is being reviewed, Blinken tells Afghan president

Blinken spoke with Ghani regarding US commitment to enduring US-Afghan partnership, says official


Anadolu Agency January 29, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

WASHINGTON:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the Afghan peace deal in a telephone call with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the State Department said on Thursday.

Blinken talked about the US commitment to an enduring US-Afghan partnership, said spokesperson Ned Price in a statement.

"The Secretary highlighted robust diplomatic support for the peace process focused on helping the parties to the conflict achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire that benefits all Afghans," said the statement.

The top diplomat "shared that the United States is reviewing the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement and whether the Taliban are living up to their 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," it said.

Blinken urged Afghan leaders to support the "historic opportunity" for peace in the region.

"The Secretary committed to consultations with the Government of Afghanistan, NATO allies, and international partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, democratic, and secure future for Afghanistan," said the statement.

The Taliban reached an agreement with Washington last February, promising to end the war in Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees. The agreement also guarantees the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the war-torn country by this coming May.

Pakistan on Thursday said the Afghan peace process had advanced into an important phase that needed “commitment and responsibility” by all sides, in a calculated statement that suggests Islamabad is not favouring the review of the peace deal by the new US administration.

Read more: COAS, ISI chief meet PM as Biden administration reviews Afghan peace deal

The development came at a time when intra-Afghan dialogue is under way in Doha where the Afghan Taliban and Afghan government have been trying to finalise the agenda.

The talks have so far made slow progress due to differences between the two sides. What added to the already complicated process is the continued violence in Afghanistan.

The administration of Afghan President Ghani was quick to welcome the announcement of a review by the Biden administration, while accusing the Taliban for not living up to the agreement.

Asked to comment on the Pakistan’s reaction to the possible review, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri told reporters that Pakistan had consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

“An Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement is the best way forward for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he added.

“Towards this end, Pakistan has been constructively engaged with all Afghan sides as well as the international stakeholders for facilitating the Afghan peace process. The international community has duly recognised Pakistan’s efforts in this regard,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan appreciated the progress made in the peace process during the last one year, particularly the developments, including signing of the US-Taliban agreement, start of the intra-Afghan negotiations and agreement on the rules and procedures.

“We believe that the intra-Afghan negotiations have now advanced into an important phase where all the negotiating sides are required to show continued commitment and responsibility for moving forward towards reaching a comprehensive political settlement,” Chaudhri said.

“It is important for Afghan to seize this historic opportunity.”

The carefully-worded remarks suggested that Pakistan wants the Biden administration to stick to the ongoing peace efforts. Pakistani officials believe that any major review may further complicate the process, which is already struggling to reach the final solution.

(With additional input from News Desk)

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