US President Joe Biden announced a full withdraw of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan on September 11th this year.
The Turkish official stressed the need for a long-term strategy to ensure stability in Afghanistan while reiterating Ankara’s “strong” commitment to Kabul.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also attended a virtual meeting with NATO defense and foreign ministers, where officials discussed the latest developments in the Afghan peace process and their policy on Kabul.
Wednesday’s meeting also comes following an announced by US President Joe Biden who confirmed a complete withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan will take place by September 11th.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was also at the Brussels meeting, said Washington will be working with NATO allies for a “coordinated” withdrawal.
“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the [NATO] secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together,” said Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.
Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem responded to the latest announcement saying the militants will stick to the February 2020 agreement signed in Doha, which had initially set a May 1st deadline for the troop withdrawal.
“The United States and the Taliban agreed that the withdrawal of foreign forces will take place at the end of April. This was something universally agreed upon,” Naeem told Al Araby TV.
Naeem added that the Taliban will continue to defend its people and their freedom as it has done for 20 years, stressing that “the responsibility rests with the violating party”.
It is still unclear whether the latest change will impact 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.
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.
The Afghan peace process initially began in Qatar in 2019, where diplomats and delegations from Kabul, the Taliban and the US met in the same room to ensure the end of the decades-long conflict.
Since then, the talks have faced several setbacks triggered by ongoing violence in Afghanistan.
According to the UN’s latest data, the number of civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan during the first three months of 2021 alone was “significantly” higher than the previous year, recording a 29% increase.
Up to 1,800 civilian casualties and 573 deaths were recorded.