Referring to the terms of the 29 February agreement between the U.S. and Taliban, the Pentagon confirmed that “U.S. forces in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s and five bases formerly occupied by U.S. forces have been transferred to our Afghan partners… We maintain the capabilities and authorities necessary to protect ourselves, our allies and partners and U.S. national interests”. Relatedly, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan asserted that “the U.S. has worked hard to carry out the first phase of its commitments”, and noted that “the Taliban and the Islamic Republic negotiating teams have made progress on logistics for intra-Afghan talks”. He also acknowledged that “more progress is needed on counter terrorism” and urged that “all sides must reduce violence”. The same day, CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie stressed that “at a period when we should be striving for a reduction in violence, instead the Taliban has actually increased their attacks on the Afghan – on the Afghan military. And that is, frankly, not helpful and it makes cloudy the chances for a peaceful resolution and a reduction in violence and a ceasefire and a way ahead in Afghanistan”.
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