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U.S. troop withdrawal | Antony Blinken makes unannounced go to to Afghanistan


His journey additionally got here after NATO instantly adopted swimsuit, saying its roughly 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanistan could be departing inside a number of months

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced go to to Afghanistan on Thursday to promote Afghan leaders and a cautious public on President Joe Biden’s resolution to withdraw all American troops from the nation and finish America’s longest-running conflict.

Mr. Blinken was assembly with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and civic figures, a day after Mr. Biden introduced that the remaining 2,500 U.S. troopers in Afghanistan could be coming house by the twentieth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults that led to the U.S. invasion.

His journey additionally got here after NATO instantly adopted swimsuit, saying its roughly 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanistan could be departing inside a number of months, ending the international army presence that had been a truth of life for a technology of Afghans already reeling from greater than 40 years of battle.

Mr. Blinken sought to reassure the Afghan management that the withdrawal didn’t imply an finish to the U.S.-Afghan relationship.

“I wanted to demonstrate with my visit the ongoing to commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan,” Mr. Blinken advised Mr. Ghani as they met on the Presidential palace in Kabul. “The partnership is changing, but the partnership itself is enduring.”

“We respect the decision and are adjusting our priorities,” Mr. Ghani advised Mr. Blinken, expressing gratitude for the sacrifices of U.S. troops.

Mr. Blinken arrived within the Afghan capital from Brussels the place he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed NATO officers on the transfer and NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg introduced the alliance would even be leaving.

Mr. Biden, Mr. Blinken, Mr. Austin and Mr. Stoltenberg have all sought to place a courageous face on the pullout, sustaining that the U.S.- and NATO-led missions to Afghanistan had achieved their aim of decimating Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida community that launched the 9/11 assaults and clearing the nation of terrorist components that might use Afghan soil to plot comparable strikes.

However, that argument has confronted pushback from some U.S, lawmakers and human rights advocates who say the withdrawal will consequence within the lack of freedoms that Afghans loved after the Taliban was ousted from energy in late 2001.

Later, in a gathering with Mr. Abdullah, Mr. Blinken repeated his message, saying that “we have a new chapter, but it is a new chapter that we’re writing together.”

“We are grateful to your people, your country, your administration,” Mr. Abdullah mentioned.

Despite billions of U.S. {dollars} in support, Afghanistan 20 years on has a poverty price of 52% in line with World Bank figures. That means greater than half of Afghanistan’s 36 million individuals dwell on lower than $1.90 a day. Afghanistan can also be thought-about one of many worst international locations on the earth to be a girl in line with the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.

For many Afghans the previous 20 years have been disappointing, as corruption has overtaken successive governments and highly effective warlords have amassed wealth and dependable militias who’re properly armed. Many Afghans worry worsening chaos much more as soon as America leaves.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities are at a stalemate however are presupposed to resume later this month in Istanbul.

Under an settlement signed between the Trump administration and the Taliban final yr, the U.S. was to have accomplished its army withdrawal by May 1. Although Mr. Biden is blowing via that deadline, angering the Taliban management, his plan requires the pull-out to start on May 1. The NATO withdrawal will begin the identical day.

“It is time to end America’s longest war,” Mr. Biden mentioned in his announcement in Washington on Tuesday, however he added that the U.S. will “not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.”

“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,” mentioned Mr. Biden, who delivered his handle from the White House Treaty Room, the identical location the place President George W. Bush introduced the beginning of the conflict. “I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

Mr. Biden, together with Mr. Blinken and Mr. Austin in Brussels, vowed that the U.S. would stay dedicated to Afghanistan’s individuals and growth.

“Bringing our troops home does not mean ending our relationship with Afghanistan or our support for the country,” Mr. Blinken mentioned. “Our support, our engagement and our determination remain.”

Austin additionally mentioned that the U.S. army, after withdrawing from Afghanistan, will maintain counterterrorism “capabilities” within the area to maintain stress on extremist teams working inside Afghanistan. Asked for particulars, he declined to elaborate on the place these U.S. forces could be positioned or in what numbers.

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