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U.S. To Send Team To Kabul For Consultations Over Stalled Afghan Peace Talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (left) and Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says the United States will send a team to Kabul for consultations on efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.

“The United States is going to send a team to Kabul. We’ll also be talking by videoconference on how to energize the peace process,” Ghani said on January 29 during an online program sponsored by the Aspen Institute.

Ghani’s remarks come as Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have made halting progress since direct talks began in Qatar in the autumn against the backdrop of rising violence and calls for the militant group to agree to a cease-fire.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration said it is reviewing the U.S.-Taliban deal signed in February 2020 to determine if the militant group is meeting its commitments, including reaching a cease-fire and engaging in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government.

Under the agreement, all foreign forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the militant group, including severing ties with Al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The Pentagon said on January 28 that the Taliban were “not meeting their commitments to reduce violence, and to renounce their ties to Al-Qaeda.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the current level of 2,500 U.S. troops in the country is enough to carry out the main mission to counter the Islamic State and al-Qaeda forces operating in Afghanistan.

He would not say whether the Pentagon would cut troop levels to zero by the May deadline.

Based on reporting by Reuters and NYT