The initial date for the withdrawal of forces was May 1st, as per the February agreement between the US and the Taliban.
“After a rigorous policy review, President Biden has decided to draw down the remaining troops in Afghanistan and finally end the US war there after 20 years,” a senior administration official told reporters, adding that the withdrawal will not be subject to further conditions.
“The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe in staying in Afghanistan forever,” the official said.
This comes following a previous statement by the US president who described the complete withdrawal of its forces by the initial May 1st deadline as “tough” given the current surge in violence in Kabul.
Responding to his previous statement, the Taliban threatened to resume its violence against foreign troops if Washington does not meet the deadline, set by the two parties in February last year during talks held in Doha.
Sources also told Reuters that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are also expected to present the decision to NATO allies in Brussels on Wednesday, with a possible public announcement by Biden himself.
The Taliban has yet to respond to the announcement, raising uncertainty about the potential impact of the decision on the upcoming Istanbul talks, now scheduled to take place from April 24th to May 4th.
An Afghan delegation, the United Nations [UN] and main facilitator Qatar will be in attendance.
“Participation in the Conference and its agenda have been the subject of extensive consultations with the Afghan parties,” the UN said.
The Conference will focus on helping the negotiating parties reach a set of shared, foundational principles that reflect an agreed vision for a future Afghanistan, a roadmap to a future political settlement and an end to the conflict,” it added.
Meanwhile, the date was announced after the Taliban vowed to miss the senior-level meeting in Istanbul should it take place on April 16th.
“We can’t take part in Turkey’s conference on 16 April as discussions on attending the conference are under way,” Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem said in a message sent to news agencies.
America’s longest war
As of now, there are 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, the lowest number since 2011, when more than 100,000 soldiers roamed around the country.
The complete withdrawal of the troops would end America’s longest-fought war, which began weeks after the September 11 attacks in the US in alleged efforts to fight Al Qaeda.
Then militants’ leader, Osama bin Laden, was later killed in Pakistan in 2011 under the President Barak Obama administration, when Biden served as the vice president.