US President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the State Department said on Tuesday he would undertake a review of a deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban and believed the United States needed means to prevent any resurgence of terrorism.
“We want to end this so-called forever war. We want to bring our forces home. We want to retain some capacity to deal with any resurgence of terrorism, which is what brought us there in the first place,” Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, told his Senate confirmation hearing.
“We have to look carefully at what has actually been negotiated. I haven’t been privy to it yet.”
At his Senate confirmation hearing, 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.”
US outgoing president Donald Trump’s administration signed a deal on February 29 last year with the Taliban to end America’s longest war but controversially kept some annexes classified.