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Secretary of State visits Afghanistan after Biden's announcement to withdraw US troops

2021-04-15T12:44:28.716Z

Blinken's arrival in Kabul on Thursday comes less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden announced the total withdrawal of US forces from the country before September 11 this year.



By Abigail Williams and Saphora Smith - NBC News

Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Afghanistan on Thursday for a surprise visit less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden announced the total withdrawal of US forces from the country before September 11 of this year.

During his stay in Kabul, Blinken is expected to

meet with Afghan President

Ashraf Ghani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, as well as members of civil society to discuss the decision.

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Blinken has promised that the elimination of US forces will not spell

the end of Washington's engagement

with Afghanistan.

Ghani has said that he respects the US decision to withdraw and after a conversation with Biden he posted on Twitter that "Afghanistan's proud security and defense forces

are fully capable of defending their people and country

, which they have been doing all along. weather".

Other prominent Afghan government officials were less optimistic.

Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the Afghan Parliament, said on Wednesday that while the people of the country want foreign forces to leave, "

the conditions

for that to happen

are not yet met

."

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"Afghanistan may start another civil war or become a haven for international terrorist organizations," President Rahmani warned in a speech on the parliamentary floor.

“We hope that the withdrawal will

be based on the conditions and depend on peace

, security and long-term stability;

otherwise, history will repeat itself ”, he added.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, said the withdrawal would backfire by prolonging the conflict and possibly even

breathing new life into al Qaeda.

"What do we lose by retiring? We lose that insurance policy against another 9/11," Graham said.

Under the Trump Administration, the United States signed an agreement with the Taliban whereby foreign troops would leave Afghanistan by May 1 in exchange for their commitment to overrule Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, as well as to enter into peace talks with a Afghan delegation.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Johanna Geron, Pool via AP

Intra-Afghan negotiations have continued for months in Doha, Qatar.

Turkey announced earlier this week that representatives from both the Afghan government and the insurgent group would meet in Istanbul later this month to speed up discussions.

Biden announced Wednesday that all US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan in time for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York that triggered the US invasion of the country.

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"I am now the fourth president of the United States to preside over a US troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats," Biden said.

"

I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth," he

assured.

"

It is time to end America's longest war

. It is time for American troops to return home."

Biden said the United States will continue to support the Afghan government and provide assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

The United States will also continue diplomatic and humanitarian work in the country and support the peace talks.

Approximately

2,500 American soldiers are serving in Afghanistan

, the lowest number since 2001.

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As part of their agreement with the United States,

the Taliban also pledged to reduce violence

.

But the fighting between the two sides has continued despite talks and civilian casualties and non-political killings have risen.

In the wake of Biden's decision, the Taliban said they will not engage in any negotiations on the future of Afghanistan until all foreign troops have withdrawn.

Biden announces that he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Uncertainty about the future of that country grows

April 14, 202101: 45

Speaking in Brussels before his arrival in Kabul, Blinken warned that the Taliban have a choice to make

whether they want international recognition or support

, insisting that there are a "series of incentives and disincentives that will continue to shape what happens."

"It is not in anyone's interest, including the Taliban, to plunge Afghanistan back into a long war that will cause terrible damage to the country and everyone," he said, adding that "ultimately, the people of Afghanistan will be the one to decide their future ".

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Blinken held a press conference in Brussels with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Stoltenberg confirmed the withdrawal of all NATO-led forces before May 1 and said he planned to complete the withdrawal of all his soldiers "within a few months".

"We went to Afghanistan together.

We have adjusted our position together

. And we are united to go together," he said.

NATO currently has around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, more than 7,000 of whom are non-US forces.

With their boots on the ground for nearly two decades, about

2,300 American soldiers have lost their lives in the country

and more than 20,000 have been injured in what many have called an "eternal" war.

More than 100,000,000 Afghan civilians have also been killed or injured in the fighting since the United States invaded in 2001.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-04-15

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