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PublishDate: Monday, March 29, 2021 11:43

US and NATO partners will exit Afghanistan ‘together’: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that American forces will only withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with their NATO allies.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_“We’ve been very clear, and #NATO has been very clear, that the approach that we’re taking to this is we went in together, we’ve adapted to circumstances together and we will come out together when the time is right,” #Blinken said in an interview with CNN.

“And what we’re focused on now is looking at the May 1 deadline.”

“One of the things that was important was not only to share our thinking as we’re going through this review, including the May 1 deadline but to listen, to hear from our partners who are so invested: their ideas, their thoughts, their analysis.”

With only weeks away from the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline, signed between the US and #Taliban in Doha last year, #Washington is still reviewing the deal although #President_Joe_Biden said on Wednesday at a press conference that the date would be “hard to meet” for “tactical reasons”.

However, he also said that he does not expect #US_troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2022.

The US currently has a reported 2,500 troops in the country but the New York Times said in a recent article that the figure was closer to 3,500. NATO meanwhile has about 7,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of foreign troops to around 10,000.

Blinken told CNN: “There are actually more European forces in #Afghanistan right now than there are American, so they’re deeply invested in this with us, and they’ve been shoulder to shoulder with us from the very start.”

“It was also very important to try to accelerate the diplomacy because ultimately everyone recognizes that there is no military solution to Afghanistan,” he said.

“There has to be some kind of political settlement, and it has to be a settlement reached by the Afghans themselves.”

This comes after the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad departed for Turkey on Thursday to resume negotiations on the peace process.

“Ambassador Khalilzad will build on recent efforts by regional and international partners to encourage two Afghan parties to accelerate their negotiations to end the conflict,” the State Department said.

“He will engage the two sides on their preparatory efforts for talks on a political settlement that produces a permanent ceasefire and a durable and just peace.

“He will also meet with stakeholders to discuss how the region and international community can facilitate talks between the sides.”

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