KABUL: Officials in Kabul welcomed on Saturday the new US administration's plan to review last year's peace deal between Washington and the Taliban, after months of speculation over how the new government might recalibrate its Afghan policy which paves the way for a complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by May.
President Joe Biden's newly appointed national security advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart, Hamdullah Mohib on Saturday, that Washington intended to review the deal —long demanded by Kabul — in a sign of a possible policy shift in the White House.
The accord, signed in Doha in February 2020, followed secret talks between the previous US government of Donald Trump and Taliban leaders, committing the latter to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in negotiations with the Afghan government.
But violence across Afghanistan has surged despite the two sides engaging in talks since September, with deadly attacks and high-profile assassinations in recent months, particularly in Kabul.
The Taliban have denied responsibility for these killings, but Afghan and US officials have blamed the group for the murders.
During their conversation, the top security leaders "emphasized ceasefire, just peace, democratic Afghanistan and protecting the past 20 years of gain,” Mohib's spokesman, Rahmatullah Andar, told Arab News.
"We welcome the US intention to review the Feb 2020 US-Taliban agreement,” Deputy Interior Minister Sediq Sediqqi said in a tweet on Saturday, following Sullivan's conversation with Mohib.
“The agreement so far did not deliver a desired goal of ending Taliban's violence and bringing a ceasefire desired by the Afghans. The Taliban did not live up to its commitments,” he continued.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until a US-led invasion in 2001.
Andar said that Mohib had reaffirmed that Afghanistan remained committed to its "foundational partnership with the United States," with which it will closely work on security, peace, counterterrorism and regional engagement.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said the group was “committed to the agreement” and that they expect the new US administration to stick to their end of the February deal.
"The Doha agreement is the best prescription and only roadmap for ending the war in Afghanistan and for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News, using the name the group uses for themselves.
"The demand of the Islamic Emirate from the new administration in America is full implementation of the Doha accord," he said.
Under the deal, the Taliban committed to cutting ties with militant groups and halting attacks on US-led troops.
Trump administration officials have until recently been saying that there were no strikes by the Taliban against American troops since the signing of the deal
Thousands of US soldiers have already left Afghanistan since February and only 2,500 of them remain in the country in addition to over 30,000 foreign contractors.
Afghan experts are divided as to what may follow the US administration's Saturday announcement.
Tamim Asey, a former deputy defense minister, said the reassessment of the deal may lead to the slowing of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"I am now confident that the US will slow US troops drawdown until a policy review is complete," he said on Twitter.
Toreq Farhadi, a former government adviser, told Arab News there would be "minor changes in the reassessment," as America wants to end the war.