Afghanistan: Taliban warns United States of ‘reaction’ if they defy May 1 deadline for withdrawal

Taliban warns United States of a ‘reaction’ if they defy the May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

Taliban said in a press conference in Moscow after meeting with senior Afghan government negotiators and international observers to try to jump-start a stalled peace process to end Afghanistan’s decades of war.

US President Joe Biden’s administration says it is reviewing an agreement that the Taliban signed with the administration for former President Donald Trump.

In an interview with ABC on Wednesday  Joe Biden said the May 1 deadline “could happen, but it is tough”, adding that if the deadline is extended it will be by “a lot longer”.

“They should go,” Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban negotiation team, told reporters, warning that staying beyond May 1 would breach the deal.

“After that, it will be a kind of violation of the agreement. That violation would not be from our side … Their violation will have a reaction.”

He did not elaborate on what form the “reaction” would take, but in keeping with the agreement they signed in February 2020, the Taliban have not attacked US or NATO forces, even as unclaimed bombings and targeted killings of Afghan security forces and civilians have spiked in recent months.

“We hope that this will not happen, that they withdraw and we focus on the settlement, peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue, in order to bring about a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire at the end of reaching a political roadmap [for] Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.