The Pentagon said on Thursday that the Taliban had not fulfilled the promises they made in the peace agreement with the United States, including reducing violence and relations with Al Qaeda.
“We are still involved in trying to get a negotiated settlement. The Taliban have not met their commitments,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Kirby said the new administration of President Joe Biden remains committed to the February 2020 peace agreement set in Qatar between the United States and the Afghan insurgent group.
The agreement requires the Taliban to halt attacks on the US military, greatly reduce the country’s violence, and advance peace talks with the Kabul government.
In return, the United States will steadily reduce its level of force in the country and withdraw all its troops by May 2021.
Kirby said that the commitments made by the United States in the peace agreement “have not changed.”
However, he said, “the Taliban are not meeting their commitments to reduce violence, and to renounce their ties to Al-Qaeda.”
As long as that remains the case, he said, “it s going to be difficult for anybody at that negotiating table” to stand by their own promises.
“In fact, it would not be the wise course,” he added, underling the US commitment to ending the war “in a responsible way.”
Kirby said that the U.S. Department of Defense is satisfied with the current level of 2,500 U.S. troops in the country, which is down from nearly 13,000 a year ago.
He said that it is now enough to carry out the main US mission in the country to combat Islamic State and Al-Qaida forces operating in Afghanistan.
But he will not say whether the Pentagon will cut its troop numbers to zero before the May deadline.
He told reporters at the Pentagon briefing that this largely depends on whether the Taliban and the Afghan government can negotiate a peaceful settlement.
“I would say this to the leaders of the Taliban, that… they make it that much more difficult for final decisions to be made about force presence by their reticence to commit to reasonable, sustainable and credible negotiations at the table,” he said.