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Taliban call on US to honour withdrawal deal

By Agencies
February 18, 2021

KABUL: Taliban urged the US to honour a landmark withdrawal deal under which all foreign troops would exit Afghanistan in the coming months, even as violence continues to rage in the war-ravaged nation.

In an 11-point statement, the insurgent group called for the Americans to stick to the agreement ironed out in Qatar last year that paved the way for ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government.

“We urge the American side to remain committed to the full implementation of this accord,” wrote the group’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in an open letter addressed to the American public. “It is the responsibility and in the interest of all to bring an end to this war, and the implementation of the Doha agreement is the most effective way of ending it.”

The statement comes aday ahead of a major Nato summit where the alliance is set to hold its highest-level talks since US President Joe Biden took office vowing to work more closely with allies after four years of tensions under Donald Trump.

The war in Afghanistan and withdrawal plans are expected to be among the most pressing issues discussed during the summit. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said the alliance would not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan “before the time is right”.

Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal, while the Pentagon has accused the Taliban of not fulfilling promises that include reducing attacks and cutting ties to insurgent groups such as al Qaeda. A study mandated by the US Congress has called for a delay in the pullout, warning it would effectively hand the Taliban a victory.

With the withdrawal deadline nearing, the Taliban have launched a string of offensives threatening at least two strategic provincial capitals in southern Afghanistan in recent months. The US and the Afghan government have also blamed the insurgents for a wave of deadly assassinations targeting journalists, politicians, judges and activists.