Afghanistan | A surprise visit by the US Secretary of Defense to Kabul

(On board a US military plane) US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, less than six weeks before the planned end of the withdrawal of US forces from that country, in agreement with the Taliban.

France Media

Mr. Austin spoke with President Ashraf Ghani days after Joe Biden said it would be “difficult” to withdraw all US forces by one being May and that the militants warned Washington of the delay.

For its part, the government in Kabul wants to keep US forces there for as long as possible due to the vital atmospheric cover it provides.

After his talks with Ashraf Ghani, Austin did not comment on when the withdrawal contained in last year’s deal with the Taliban will end.

Photo provided by the Presidential Palace via Reuters

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“It’s a key area,” it is […] President’s decision [Biden] He’ll take his time, “he confined to telling reporters about it.

In February 2020, the United States concluded in Qatar a historic agreement with the Taliban to withdraw all American soldiers by 1is being Next May, in exchange for security guarantees and the opening of unprecedented direct negotiations between the militants and the authorities in Kabul.

But the intra-Afghan negotiations that began in Doha in September have stalled and fighting intensified on the ground, especially in rural areas. The Biden administration also believed that the Taliban had failed to maintain its commitment to a permanent break with jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda.

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Only 2,500 American soldiers remain in Afghanistan, where the United States intervened militarily in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on their soil.

In response to a question about the Taliban warning of possible “consequences” if all American forces do not leave in the first areais being May, Lloyd Austin, who himself headed a division in Afghanistan from September 2003 to August 2005, was reassured.

“I have great confidence [en lui] In his ability to protect our soldiers, “he answered, speaking of General Austin Miller, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Mediators in the Afghan conflict on Thursday urged the Taliban to abandon their spring offensive after talks in Moscow.

The discussions in the Russian capital were organized in parallel with those that began in September in Doha and those that Turkey wants to host in April in Istanbul.

The US Secretary of Defense, whose details were not provided for security reasons about his visit to Afghanistan before it ended, had earlier visited Japan, South Korea and India.

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