Taliban:Peace Deal Near Breaking Point 04/06 06:14
The Taliban said their peace deal with the United States was nearing a
breaking point, accusing Washington of violations that included drone attacks
on civilians, while also chastising the Afghan government for delaying the
release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners promised in the agreement.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) --- The Taliban said their peace deal with the
United States was nearing a breaking point, accusing Washington of violations
that included drone attacks on civilians, while also chastising the Afghan
government for delaying the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners promised in the
The Taliban said they had restricted attacks against Afghan security forces
to rural outposts, had not attacked international forces and had not attacked
Afghan forces in cities or military installations. The Taliban said these
limits on their attacks had not been specifically laid out in the agreement
with the U.S. signed in February.
The Taliban's statement issued Sunday warned of more violence if the U.S.
and the Afghan government continue alleged violations of the deal.
U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett in a tweet overnight denied the
Taliban allegation, saying the U.S. forces in Afghanistan has "upheld and
continues to uphold the military terms of the U.S.-TB (Taliban) agreement; any
assertion otherwise is baseless."
In his tweet, Leggett called for Taliban to reduce violence and said the
U.S. military will continue to come to the aid of Afghanistan's security forces
if attacked, in line with the agreement.
Meanwhile, the militants said they had reduced their attacks compared to
last year, but said continued violations would "create an atmosphere of
mistrust that will not only damage the agreements, but also force mujaheddin to
a similar response and will increase the level of fighting."
The Taliban have accused the Afghan government of using "indefensible
arguments" to explain the repeated delays in releasing a promised 5,000 Taliban
prisoners in exchange for 1,000 government personnel. The Afghan government's
foot-dragging has also left Washington frustrated.
Meanwhile, in the Afghan capital, President Ashraf Ghani announced his new
Cabinet even as he squabbles with his main political challenger over last
year's election results. Ghani's move came even as Afghan mediators ---
including former President Hamid Karzai --- shuttled between the president and
his opponent, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has also declared himself
The country's Independent Election Commission has declared Ghani a winner,
but Abdullah and the Elections Complaint Commission have charged widespread
Attempts to negotiate an end to the political turmoil roiling Kabul have
made little progress, frustrating the U.S. and potentially derailing the next
stage in the Afghan peace process. Washington has threatened to withhold $1
billion in aid this year if Ghani and Abdullah can't reach a compromise.
The Trump administration wants a quick start to intra-Afghan negotiations,
the next step in the peace deal it signed on Feb. 29. It looked promising when
Ghani announced his negotiating team last week, but Abdullah's response to it
has been lukewarm and the Taliban have rejected it as one-sided.
The U.S. and NATO have already begun to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
The full withdrawal is expected to be completed in 14 months and is tied to
Taliban commitments to fight terrorist groups and help in the battle against
the Islamic State group.
The withdrawal is not tied to the success of intra-Afghan negotiations, but
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had traveled to Afghanistan last month to
try to break the impasse between Ghani and Abdullah. Pompeo left without a
solution; however, last week he welcomed that the Afghan government had put
together a negotiating team and made progress toward the prisoner releases.
Those releases have stumbled even as the Taliban sent a three member team to
Kabul last week.