WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said on Tuesday a May 1 deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan may have to be reconsidered because the Taliban are not meeting their commitments under a 2020 peace deal.
“I’m very concerned about the viability of the peace process in Afghanistan,” Menendez said on a call with reporters, adding that he believes the Taliban is “clearly not abiding” by all of the commitments it made.
The new U.S. administration of President Joe Biden wants to revive stalled peace talks before May 1, when the last 2,500 U.S. troops must leave Afghanistan under the Feb. 29, 2020, deal struck between the Taliban and the former Trump administration.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week proposed in a letter to Afghan leaders that a senior-level meeting take place “in the coming weeks.”
Menendez became chairman of the influential foreign relations panel after Biden’s Democrats took control of the Senate in January.
He said that if intelligence reports showed that the Taliban was falling short, the deadline would have to be rethought.
“If the Taliban are confirmed as not meeting their commitments, which I personally believe they’re not, then we may have to reconsider the May 1 deadline,” Menendez said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)