A rear door gate on a CH-47, standing guard on the mountains in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, May 12, 2013.
Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick | US Army
WASHINGTON – NATO has not made a final decision regarding troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a deadline 40 days away, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.
“All options are on the table and a final decision has not yet been made, but I think it is extremely important that the allies consult closely,” Stoltenberg said before the meeting of NATO foreign ministers, which will also include Foreign Minister Antony Blinken first time.
In February 2020, the Trump administration brokered a deal with the Taliban that would initiate a permanent ceasefire and further reduce the US military’s footprint from around 13,000 soldiers to 8,600 by mid-July last year.
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According to the agreement, all foreign armed forces would have left Afghanistan by May 2021. The majority of the troops in the war-weary country come from Europe and the partner countries. There are currently around 2,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan.
“The main focus now is on supporting renewed efforts to make progress in the peace talks. Peace talks are the only way to find a sustainable politically enduring solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and we therefore call on all parties to negotiate well . ” Believe and in the Taliban not to provide any more support for Al-Qaeda or international terrorist groups, “said the NATO chief, adding that the alliance” must see a reduction in the level of violence “.
“We will evaluate, we will consult and then make decisions together as NATO allies,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Monday.
Stoltenberg’s comments come a day after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Afghanistan to meet with the nation’s leader. The trip that makes Austin the first cabinet-level official in Biden to visit the war-torn country comes as Washington contemplates a possible end to America’s longest war.
The Biden government has not yet announced its next steps in Afghanistan.
According to a Department of Defense report, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have combined cost US taxpayers more than $ 1.57 trillion since September 11, 2001.
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