Washington: The Biden administration has said it will review a peace deal that ex-President Trump made with the Taliban.
The White House wanted to make sure the Afghan militant group was “living up to its commitments”, including reducing violence and cutting ties with terrorists, a spokeswoman said.
Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s top security adviser, has spoken with Afghan officials to confirm the review.
The country has seen a wave of targeted assassinations in recent months.
The current US presence in Afghanistan dates to 2001 when soldiers invaded to remove the Taliban from power, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But over time the movement regrouped as an insurgent force and by 2018 was active in more than two-thirds of Afghanistan, threatening the elected government.
Afghanistan’s vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, told the BBC earlier this month that he believed the US had conceded too much to the Taliban as part of the agreement.
What is the US-Taliban deal?
The Trump administration made withdrawing troops from Afghanistan a priority.
The deal signed in February 2020 said that the US and its Nato allies would withdraw all troops in 14 months if the Taliban upheld its promises, including not allowing al-Qaeda or other militants to operate in areas it controlled, and proceeding with national peace talks.
Although the Taliban, a hard-line Islamic movement, stopped attacks on international forces as part of the historic agreement, it has continued to fight the Afghan government.
As a condition of starting negotiations with the Afghan government, the Taliban also demanded that thousands of their men be released in a prisoner swap.
Direct talks then began Doha in September 2020 but a breakthrough has still not been reached.
Levels of violence in the country remain high – with journalists, activists, politicians and women judges among those killed in targeted assassinations.
What does the Biden White House want to do?
The National Security Council confirmed on Friday that President Biden’s new national security adviser, Mr Sullivan, had contacted his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib and “made clear the United States’ intention to review” the deal to check the Taliban was living up to pledges it made.
“Mr 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 ceasefire,” spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.
She also confirmed Mr Sullivan had discussed US support for protecting the “extraordinary gains” made by Afghan women and girls.
Under the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, women were not allowed to attend school or work. The militants say they no longer oppose women’s education, or them working, but many in Afghanistan remain sceptical.
Women in the crosshairs as Afghanistan eyes peace
Jake Sullivan, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden”s choice to be his national security adviser, speaks in Wilmington, Delaware,
News of the review comes days after Antony Blinken, Mr Biden’s pick for secretary of state, said at a confirmation hearing that the Biden administration wanted “to end this so-called forever war” but also “retain some capacity to deal with any resurgence of terrorism, which is what brought us there in the first place”.
There are currently only 2,500 US troops left in the country – the lowest number since the conflict began almost 20 years ago.
The Taliban has previously told the BBC that if all foreign troops do not withdraw by spring, as agreed by the Trump administration, they will resume attacks on international forces. BBC