The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday that the Taliban was not living up to their commitments under an agreement signed this year, Reuters reported.
The Taliban and Washington signed an agreement in February for reduced violence and a move toward talks with the Afghan government, but attacks by the group have increased since then.
“I don’t think they are,” Esper told reporters when asked if the Taliban were living up to their commitment.
He added that he believed the Afghan government was also not living up to its commitment. The Afghan government was not part of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban.
Esper said the Afghan government and the Taliban “both need to come together and make progress on the terms that (are) laid out.”
On Monday, Asked at a Brookings Institute webinar if the US might change its stance on Afghanistan, given the Taliban's failure to reduce violence following the US-Taliban deal, Esper said that the ultimate goal remains to keep Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists and that a political solution--via the planned intra-Afghan talks--is still the path forward for the US.
Esper said the Taliban have not reduced violence; however, they have not attacked US targets nor targeted large metropolitan areas since the US-Taliban agreement.
He described the path towards the intra-Afghan negotiations as "long and winding and bumpy and behind schedule," but affirmed that since the war could not be won on the battlefield, a political settlement must be sought, saying "we have to have a political solution for this."
Referring to the feud between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, Esper said: "The Afghan government needs to organize itself and reach an agreement," but he said it was his understanding that there was a "possible new power-sharing agreement coming out between Abdullah and Ghani."
He said, "We've seen some exchanges with prisoners but not enough," referring to the US-Taliban deal calling for the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners and the Taliban to release 1,000 detained members of the security forces.
Esper said that the US still maintains that it can maintain its objectives in Afghanistan with a reduced troop force.