US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today, Sunday, that the decision to withdraw his country’s forces from Afghanistan has not been decided yet, explaining that the decision will be taken by President Joe Biden in a timely manner and we will implement it, reports The Guardian.
He added, during a previously unannounced visit to Kabul, that his country wanted to see improvement on the ground while investing diplomatic efforts.
Austin had met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and discussed with him the future of US forces in Afghanistan.
The Doha agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban provides for the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan by the first of next May.
For its part, the Afghan presidency stated in a statement that President Ashraf Ghani, during his meeting with the US Secretary of Defense, expressed concern about the escalation of violence in Afghanistan.
The Afghan President affirmed that his country wants to take advantage of the current opportunity to achieve peace in Afghanistan, adding that the solution is to reach a just and lasting peace.
And Washington has previously announced that all options are possible when it comes to the deadline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which was set according to the Doha Agreement.
And just 6 weeks before a deadline for the United States to withdraw its forces – which had been in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years – Washington sent a senior official to participate in regional peace talks hosted by Russia last Thursday.
And US President Joe Biden discussed the option of keeping his forces in Afghanistan until next November, instead of withdrawing them by May, which is the deadline set in the Doha agreement, according to local media.
CBS News reported – last Thursday, citing two informed sources that it did not name – that Biden “opposed the efforts of the Ministry of Defense to keep US forces in Afghanistan beyond May 1, during recent discussions with members of his national security team.” But he was persuaded to discuss the 6-month extension.
The network stated that “Biden wants to withdraw,” but at the same time the Pentagon leaders raise the issue on the one hand that the Taliban do not abide by the agreement on their part, warning Biden of their inability to guarantee what the movement will do if all the forces are withdrawn.
The network indicated that the army presented several options, including withdrawing forces on or close to May 1, or maintaining forces in Afghanistan indefinitely, or keeping the forces for a period specified by Biden, which could include an extension for a period of 6 months.
Earlier, a Taliban spokesman said that the continued presence of US forces in Afghanistan “contradicts the Doha agreement,” noting that violating the agreement “will have unpleasant consequences.”