News ID: 280153
Published: 0304 GMT January 31, 2021

Foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond May deadline: NATO sources

Foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond May deadline: NATO sources
OMAR SOBHANI/REUTERS
A US soldier keeps watch at an Afghan National Army base in Logar Province, Afghanistan, on august 5, 2018.

International troops plan to stay in Afghanistan beyond the May deadline envisaged by the insurgent Taliban’s deal with the US, four senior NATO officials said, a move that could escalate tensions with the Taliban demanding full withdrawal.

“There will be no full withdrawal by allies by April-end,” one of the officials told Reuters.

“Conditions have not been met,” he said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “And with the new US administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy.”

The administration of the then-US president, Donald Trump, signed an agreement with the Taliban early last year calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops by May in return for the insurgents fulfilling certain security guarantees.

Plans on what will happen after April are now being considered and likely to be a top issue at a key NATO meeting in February, the NATO sources said.

Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began in September in Doha, but violence has remained high.

The administration of Joe Biden, who replaced Trump on January 20, has launched a review of his predecessor’s peace agreement.

 

Rising concern

 

The Taliban have become increasingly concerned in recent weeks about the possibility that Washington might change aspects of the agreement and keep troops in the country beyond May, two Taliban sources told Reuters.

“We conveyed our apprehensions, but they assured us of honoring and acting on the Doha accord. What’s going on, on the ground in Afghanistan, is showing something else,” said a Taliban leader in Doha.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters the insurgents remained committed to the peace process.

“No doubt that if the Doha deal is not implemented there will be consequences, and the blame will be upon that side which does not honor the deal,” he said.

“Our expectations are also that NATO will think to end this war and avoid more excuses for prolonging the war in Afghanistan.”

 

 

 

 

   
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Resource: Reuters
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