US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed in a phone call yesterday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani the ongoing review of the United States ’strategy in Afghanistan, and reaffirmed his country’s support for the peace process there.
A statement issued by State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday, that Blinken told Ghani that the United States is committed to a peace process that includes “a just and sustained political settlement and a lasting and comprehensive ceasefire”.
The Biden administration’s review of strategy in Afghanistan includes gauging the Taliban’s fulfillment of its obligations under a February 2020 agreement that provides for the gradual withdrawal of US forces to be completed by May 1st.
Administration officials said the review will determine the status of US forces in the country.
In the February 2020 agreement, the Taliban agreed to reduce violence and cease providing shelter to al Qaeda fighters or allowing them to engage in fundraising, recruitment and training activities in Afghanistan.
US and European officials say the Taliban are not fulfilling their obligations and that the escalation of violence is not preparing the conditions for a move forward towards peace.
The Taliban militants deny the presence of al Qaeda fighters.
They suggest that they will resume attacks on foreign forces if Washington does not meet the deadline and withdraw its forces on May 1st.
The agreement between the United States and the Taliban was a prelude to negotiations between the movement and a delegation from the Afghan government on a settlement that would end decades of conflict.
But peace talks in Doha reached a dead end after they started six months late.
“The United States will continue to consult closely with Afghan leaders, NATO allies and international partners about the way forward,” Blinken assured Ghani.
The presidential palace in Kabul said in a statement that Ghani and Blinken agreed on the need for continued bilateral cooperation and a successful peace process.