NATO Allies agree to pull out all troops over next few months
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Wednesday night that all NATO Allies would withdraw their troops from Afghanistan starting May 1.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_In a joint press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels late Wednesday night with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd #Austin, Stoltenberg said NATO will continue to support Afghanistan but not by having troops on the ground.
He said all Allies agreed Wednesday to start #withdrawing_troops from May 1 but added the decision was one that “#carries_risks”.
However, he noted that should #NATO_forces come under attack by the Taliban during the withdrawal phase they would be met with force.
Blinken said that the Taliban now has a choice to make and that it’s in “no one’s interests to plunge the country into a civil war”.
He also said ultimately it will be the people of Afghanistan who decide their future. “They are the ones who have to decide.”
Asked about Afghans at risk by US withdrawal and opportunities for asylum-seekers, #Blinken said the US has a commitment to those Afghans who worked with the US. He also said however that a withdrawal of troops does not mean an end to US commitment.
The defense secretary in turn said any attack on their troops during the draw down will be responded to with force.
Austin said the US will seek to continue funding the Afghan Air Force and seek to fund security forces’ salaries but also said they know the Taliban will try to reverse gains made in the past 20 years and because of this a political settlement is needed.