Taliban demands Biden abides by Afghan troop withdrawal deal
The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday called on US President-elect Joe Biden to abide by the terms of a deal negotiated by the Trump administration with the insurgent group in February, which pledged a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by next year.
"The Islamic Emirate [Taliban] would like to stress to the new American president-elect and future administration that implementation of the agreement is the most reasonable and effective tool for ending the conflict between both our countries," the group said in a statement.
The response to news of Joe Biden's victory was aloof compared to that of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who on Sunday expressed optimism that it ushered an opportunity to deepen the "strategic partnership" between the countries.
Analysts say his government was sidelined by the February agreement with the Taliban, from which it was excluded from and forced to accept the release of almost 6,000 Taliban prisoners.
Deep in the throes of his campaign last month, President Trump received endorsements from the militant group, with Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid telling a CBS interviewer that he was a "wise man" who worked for the interests of his country.
Trump's administration pledged to fully disengage from Afghanistan by May next year as part of the deal, subject to security guarantees and a commitment from the insurgents to stop trans-national militants, such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, from operating in the country.
Since the signing of the deal, the US military has shut several bases and pulled out thousands of troops as agreed - something which had been a cornerstone of Trump's plan to end the US' longest war.
Unprecedented peace talks underway in Doha since early September between the Taliban and the government have stalled as violence continues to rage across the country with the Taliban stepping up daily attacks against Afghan security forces.
A US government watchdog last week said that violence against Afghan forces and civilians were 50 percent higher in the three months to the end of September compared to the previous quarter.
The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recorded 2,561 civilian casualties this quarter including 876 deaths, up 43 percent from the April to June period.
It came amid calls to boycott the intra-Afghan peace talks following devastating attacks on educational institutions in Kabul claimed by the Islamic State group, but which officials insist were carried out by the Taliban.
Agencies contributed to this report.