Biden Team to Review US-Taliban Deal: Blinken

Kabul (BNA) Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the State Department, indicated to Congress Tuesday that the incoming president’s team will look closely at what’s already been negotiated with the Taliban.

At his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, he said he plans to emphatically redirect the trajectory of US foreign policy after four years of the Trump administration. On whether the US, under Biden, would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan as planned, he said:

“The President-elect wants to make sure that even as we pull back our forces that we retain the capacity to deal with any reemergence.” He made clear, however, that the Biden team hasn’t been given much access to the agreement outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban in February last year. Blinken said the Biden team will “look closely at what’s been negotiated there … to understand fully what commitments were made and not made by the Taliban.”

He added: “I don’t believe any agreement is sustainable without protecting gains by women and girls over the last 20 years.” Among numerous issues he was questioned on, lawmakers also asked Blinken about one of the most concerning major external threats to the US – Iran. According to CNN, Trump left the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and instituted a maximum pressure campaign. But as Trump leaves office, Iran is closer to gaining a nuclear weapon than it was when he entered. Blinken however made clear the Biden administration feels the world was safer with the nuclear deal in place. “President-elect Biden is committed to the proposition that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Blinken said.

“And we share, I know, that goal across this committee, an Iran with a nuclear weapon or on the threshold of having one with the capacity to build one on short order would be in Iran that is even more dangerous than it already is.”

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