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Taliban spokesman to Press TV: US has violated deal on withdrawal of troops

The Taliban say the United States has breached its agreement with the group for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

Mohammed Naeem Wardak, spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Thursday that Washington has failed to abide by its commitments and respect pledges under the 2020 peace deal with the group.

"The US shamefully breached‎ the agreement on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Americans have failed to adhere to their commitments," he said. 

Wardak said the group’s priority is now to forcibly expel the US forces from Afghanistan.

"Afghans have been engaged in jihad against the occupiers and defending themselves against foreign forces for 20 years," the spokesman said.

 "We have been fighting to make our country independent. We want to have an independent establishment to protect our people," he added.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan as he said it was "time to end America’s longest war”.

On Tuesday officials said it would come before September 11, 2021, and would be without conditions, in a break with the former US government's commitments.

In February 2020 the Taliban struck a deal with the administration of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump that would have seen US troops withdraw by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees.

With the fighting continuing, Biden has pushed that deadline back, but removed the conditions.

Reacting to the matter, a senior Russian official said on Wednesday that a the new decision by Washington to reschedule the withdrawal of US troops will hinder the peace process and violate the deal with the Taliban.

Russia’s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said the plan “will complicate the peace process as it is an absolutely clear violation of the US-Taliban agreement, which was signed in Doha on February 29, 2020.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the Taliban spokesman blamed the US for a recent surge in violence across the war-ravaged country, saying, “US bombardments have forced us to expand our operations.”

The Taliban have already threatened to resume attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan if Washington fails to meet the May 1 deadline.

Wardak said the Taliban will take part in peace negotiations once foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

“We have always said we want to resolve problems through dialogue. Nothing can be imposed on us. Afghan people will decide their future."

He said, "Afghan groups must discuss peace plans, choose a beneficial one for the country and any peace plan must be effective in practice."

The Afghan people, he said, are a unified nation despite differences. 

The Taliban spokesman also called on the international community and the neighboring countries to help Afghanistan deal with its problems.

The United States, along with its NATO allies, invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. The invasion, which has led to the longest war in US history, removed the Taliban from power.

But the Taliban swiftly launched a bloody insurgency that the US-led coalition has failed to quell.

Two decades of war has killed more than 2,200 US troops, wounded 20,000, and cost as much as $1 trillion while thousands of Afghan civilians have lost their lives. 

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