Fact Check: Biden Claims Trump Did Not Require Taliban to Reach Agreement with Afghan Gov’t

Biden walks away II (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

CLAIM: Trump did not require “that the Taliban work out a cooperative government arrangement with the Afghan government.”

VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. The agreement required the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government, though it did not require an agreement be reached before the U.S. would withdraw.

President Joe Biden claimed Tuesday in a speech to the nation following the Afghanistan withdrawal that he was placed in difficult position by his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who reached an agreement with the Taliban. He said:

My predecessor, the former president, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May 1, just months after I was inaugurated. It included no requirement that the Taliban work out a cooperative government arrangement with the Afghan government [sic]. But it did authorize the release of 5000 prisoners last year, including some of the Taliban’s top war commanders among those who just took control of Afghanistan. And by the time I came to office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country. The previous administration’s agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1 deadline, the Taliban would not attack any American forces. But if we stayed, all bets were off. So we were left with a simple decision: either follow through by the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan, or say we were not leaving, and commit another tens of thousands of more troops going back to war.

Biden is misrepresenting the text of the February 2020 agreement. It states that “the Taliban will start intra-Afghan negotiations with Afghan sides on March 10, 2020” and anticipates the “formation of the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations.”

It also states:

A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire will be an item on the agenda of the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations. The participants of intra-Afghan negotiations will discuss the date and modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, including joint implementation mechanisms, which will be announced along with the completion and agreement over the future political roadmap of Afghanistan.

Biden is correct that the deal did not require both sides to reach an agreement, but he left out the fact that it did require negotiations, and envisioned their completion.

As far as negotiations themselves, Biden himself said during the 2020 campaign that he would negotiate with the Taliban.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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