Afghan officials welcome Biden’s Taliban review
Published: Jan 24, 2021 05:35 PM

Afghan army soldiers take part in a military operation against Taliban militants in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2019. Afghan government forces stormed a Taliban hideout in Khan Abad district of the northern Kunduz province on Thursday, killing five insurgents and wounding three others, a local police commander Sarfaraz Khan said. (Photo by Ajmal Kakar/Xinhua)

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.

Washington struck a deal with the Taliban in Qatar in 2020 to begin withdrawing its troops in return for security guarantees from the militants and a commitment to kickstart peace talks with the Afghan government.

But Biden administration officials are to re-evaluate the pact as violence across Afghanistan has surged despite the Taliban and Afghan government engaging in those talks since September in the Qatari capital of Doha.

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 Saturday.

President Joe 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 Friday.

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.

It added that Sullivan "underscored that the US will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent cease-fire."