WASHINGTON/KABUL: The Biden administration said it will review a landmark US deal with the Taliban, focusing on whether the insurgent group has reduced attacks in Afghanistan, in keeping with its side of the agreement.

Washington struck a deal with the Taliban in Qatar last year, to begin withdrawing its troops in return for security guarantees from the militants and a commitment to kick-start peace talks with the Afghan government.

But violence across Afghanistan has surged despite the two sides engaging in those talks since September.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said Pakistan hopes for greater engagement with the new United States government and called on President Joe Biden to follow up on the ongoing Afghan peace process and withdrawal of US troops from the war-ravaged country.

President Biden’s newly appointed national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib and “made clear the United States’ intention to review” the deal, said National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne late on Friday.

Top Afghan officials welcome US govt’s decision

Specifically, Washington wants to check that the Taliban is “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,” her statement continued.

Meanwhile, top Afghan officials on Sat­ur­day welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to review a landmark US deal with the Taliban and focus on whether the insurgents have reduced attacks in Afghanistan in keeping with the agreement.

Afghanistan’s acting minister of state for pea­ce said the outcome of the review should be a truce to end attacks in the war-ravaged country.

It is expected the review will lead “to the demand of the Afghan people, which is an immediate stop to violence and achieving permanent peace”, Abdullah Khenjani said in a video statement on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2021

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