Biden administration will review deal with the Taliban: White House

FILE PHOTO: Jake Sullivan, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's choice to be his national security adviser, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will review the peace agreement reached with the Taliban last year, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart in a phone call on Friday, according to a White House statement.

Under a February 2020 deal between the United States and the Taliban, U.S. forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees.

Last week the number of U.S troops in Afghanistan went down to 2,500, the lowest level of American forces there since 2001.

But violence levels in Afghanistan have surged, hastening international calls for a ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The representatives of the two sides met earlier this month for a first session in a second round of peace talks, where contentious issues such as a ceasefire and power-sharing were expected to be discussed.

Sullivan told Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib that the review would assess “whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders,” the statement said.

The White House statement said Sullivan underscored that the U.S. will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort,” which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Bill Berkrot