Defense

NATO mulls plan to pull troops out of Afghanistan after US announcement

NATO member countries are expected to discuss how they plan on pulling their troops out of Afghanistan after the U.S. announced it will withdraw its troops from the country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday before a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels that member countries’ foreign and defense ministers are discussing “a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan.”

“Now it is time to bring our forces home,” Blinken said. “President Biden will speak to this in a few hours in the United States, and I’m here to work closely with our allies, with the Secretary General, on the principle that we’ve established from the start: in together, adapt together and out together.”

“We will work very closely together in the weeks and months ahead on a safe, deliberate, and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan, but even as we do that, our commitment to Afghanistan, to its future, will remain and we’ll talk about that today as well,” he said.

NATO currently has 9,600 troops in Afghanistan, of whom 2,500 are American. Germany has the second highest number of troops there at 1,300, but the country’s foreign minister forecast an agreement on a withdrawal plan in the near future after the U.S. announcement. 

“We always said, we go in together, we go out together,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German media. “I stand for an orderly withdrawal. And that’s why I assume that we will decide this today.”

NATO forces sent troops into Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The operation was intended to oust the Taliban from power and root out al Qaeda’s bases there.

Blinken said “together we have achieved the goals that we set out to achieve,” though critics of the withdrawal said the Taliban remains a force in Afghanistan and a withdrawal could raise the risks of armed groups regaining a foothold in the country.

Biden will discuss his plans to pull troops out of Afghanistan by September later Wednesday, saying in prepared remarks that the perfect conditions for a withdrawal will likely never materialize.

“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 will say. “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

Tags Afghanistan Antony Blinken Jens Stoltenberg Joe Biden Taliban Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan

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