Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, said at a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the new administration will “thoroughly assess” the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in February 2020.
The deal calls for a full US withdrawal from Afghanistan by the Spring of this year. The Trump administration left 2,500 troops and over 18,000 Pentagon contractors in the country for the Biden administration.
“We have to look carefully at what has actually been negotiated. I haven’t been privy to it yet,” Blinken said. “We must thoroughly assess the US-Taliban peace agreement, I still do not know the details of this agreement.”
The details of the deal that have been released to the public call for intra-Afghan talks between the US-backed government and the Taliban. The talks have been struggling but are still taking place in Doha. The Taliban also agreed to not allow groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan, and pledged not to attack US forces.
It’s not clear if President Biden will go through with the complete withdrawal, and there are excuses he could find to stay, like the struggling talks and ongoing violence. He has previously said that he favors leaving a small counterterrorism force in Afghanistan, something Blinken hinted at in his comments.
“We want to end this so-called forever war. We want to bring our forces home. We want to retain some capacity to deal with any resurgence of terrorism, which is what brought us there in the first place,” Blinken said.