Conflicts & War

Taliban threatens to cancel peace pact if troops not withdrawn on time

Moscow, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- The Taliban Friday threatened to cancel a peace pact with the United States if it did not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as promised in the agreement signed between the two sides in February 2020 in Doha.

Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem Wardak said group members in the Moscow peace conference insisted on implementing the Doha agreement.

“If they do not, then we will have certain problems that would de-facto cancel the agreement reached in Doha,” Wardak told reporters in Moscow.

Asked if there would be a military offensive if the US did not meet the May 1 deadline, Taliban leader Sohail Shaheen said it “will be a violation of the agreement on their part, not ours.”

“If there is a violation (of the agreement), of course, then there will be a reaction. But we hope that does not happen,” he said.

He said if troop withdrawal happened as agreed by the US, the Afghan government and the Taliban could focus “on a peaceful resolution” of the conflict raging for decades.

US President Joe Biden Tuesday said it would be “tough” to meet the May 1 deadline for the troop withdrawal.

“It could happen, but it is tough,” Biden said, adding the pact “was not a very solidly negotiated deal” that his predecessor Trump worked out with the Taliban.

When Trump signed the agreement, there were only 12,000 American troops in Afghanistan, a significant drop from the 100,000 in 2011.

An estimated 2,500 US troops and 1,000 members of the special forces are in Afghanistan, according to The New York Times.

Asked about the US proposal to speed up the intra-Afghan peace process, which includes an interim government with the Taliban, Shaheen said the group was still “holding consultations on the issue.”

“We have not expressed our point of view. We will do so in due course,” he said.

Russia hosted the Moscow meeting to help speed up the intra-Afghan dialog that began in September last year.

The peace process, which started with the Taliban-US pact in Doha, has achieved little so far, with the talks between the Afghan government and the insurgent group almost stalled.

The two sides have not reached a consensus on anything beyond the ground rules and procedures for the conversations.

Besides the Taliban and the Afghan government, special observers from Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan attended the Moscow conference.

The meeting ended with a joint statement calling on the warring sides to jump-speed the peace process and curb rising violence in the country.

“We call on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to reduce the level of violence in the country and on the Taliban not to pursue a spring offensive, so as to avoid further casualties and create an environment conducive to reaching a negotiated political settlement,” the joint statement said.

The conference was the first of the planned international meetings ahead to revive the Afghan peace process.

Turkey will host a similar meeting next month. EFE-EPA

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