Taliban reiterate US withdrawal by May

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KABUL: The Taliban warned Washington on Friday not to ignore the May 1 deadline for withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan, threatening retaliation that could include escalated Taliban attacks.


The Taliban released their notice at a press conference in Moscow the day after meeting with senior Afghan government negotiators and foreign monitors to revive the failed peace process to resolve Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict.


President Joe Biden’s administration says it’s reviewing the US-Taliban agreement signed under Trump’s administartion.


In an interview with ABC on Wednesday, Biden said the May 1 deadline “could happen, but it is difficult,” adding that if the deadline is extended, it will not be by “a lot longer.”


Meanwhile, Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban negotiator, told reporters that “They (US troops) should leave,” warning that remaining past May 1 would mean a violation of the agreement.


He did not elaborate on the extent of the retaliation, but the Taliban have not attacked US or NATO forces in compliance with the February 2020 resolution, even though unclaimed bombings and targeted killings have escalated in recent months.


This is while Russia, the United States, China, and Pakistan released a statement urging the warring parties to reduce the level of violence in the region, explicitly urging the Taliban not to launch a spring offensive.


In their joint statement, the four countries reiterated that they do not accept the restoration of an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan, equivalent to the Taliban’s previous constitution.