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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Biden says ‘tough’ to meet US troop withdrawal deadline in Afghanistan

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The US was scheduled to fully withdraw its forces by May 1st as part of a February agreement signed between Washington and the Taliban last year.

US President Joe Biden said that the complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan “could happen” but remains “tough” as the Taliban continue their attacks in Kabul, ABC News reported on Wednesday.

“I’m in the process of making that decision now,” said Biden on ABC News, responding to a question about meeting the May deadline as part of the February agreement between the US and the Taliban.

In response to Biden’s comments, the Taliban said there would be “consequences” if Washington failed to stick to the agreement, placing the current peace process at great risk.

Policy shift

Under the former Donald Trump Administration, the US and the Taliban signed a historic accord in order to withdraw American and NATO forces by May. In turn, the Taliban would stop its attacks in Afghanistan and cut its ties with terrorist organisations.

Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban resumed earlier this year with negotiations between the two sides in Doha. However, the talks were delayed to make way for Biden’s inauguration.

“The failure to have an orderly transition from the Trump presidency to my presidency… has cost me time and consequences. That’s one of the issues we’re talking about now, in terms of Afghanistan,” said Biden.

The Biden administration is currently committed to ensuring the completion of the peace process, which is expected to end the decades-long conflict between the Afghan Government and the Taliban.

Read also: Moscow’s Afghan peace conference: Who is attending?

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was recently sent to the region to fast track the stalled talks, proposing more international assistance to push for a resolution as well as an interim government.

Khalilzad is currently in Russia for the senior-level Afghan conference, attended by delegations from Qatar, the Taliban, Afghan government, US, Pakistan and China.

That came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Jean Arnault as the envoy working to oversee the peace process on Wednesday.

“We hope that today’s conversation will help create conditions for achieving progressive inter-Afghan negotiations,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in his opening remarks at the March 18th meeting.

As of now, there are 2,5000 US troops in Afghanistan, the lowest since 2001 when it began its operations in Kabul following the September 11 attacks by Al Qaeda.


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