The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad indicated Tuesday the Taliban has yet to fully cut ties with al-Qaida, according to sources, which the Taliban had agreed to do as part of an agreement with the United States.
The Taliban have taken some “positive steps, but they have some distance still to go” to meet the conditions laid out in February’s agreement between the US and the Taliban, Khalilzad told Congress on Tuesday, as Yahoo News reported.
The agreement is to ensure the Taliban will not use Afghanistan as a haven for any security threats against Unites States or its allies, and not cooperate with any terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.
While the US Envoy refused to go more in details, when pressure by democrats during a hearing, critique suggests contact between the Taliban and al-Qaida is continuing regardless.
As part of the agreement, President Donald Trump vowed to reduce forces still in Afghanistan to between 4,000 and 5,000 by this fall, Khalilzad said. But US will assess Taliban’s commitment to the deal before pushing further to troops’ withdrawal.
“This is not an agreement based on trust,” he said as quoted by Yahoo News, adding the Taliban recognize that it would not be in their interest to allow any terrorists to operate in Afghanistan. “They say they have learned their lesson from the past and that they would not allow terrorists to use their territory against us.”
Meanwhile, David Helvey, the Pentagon officials currently performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said Taliban do not seem to comply with their side of agreement, adding “we have works to be done there.”