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14 Apr, 2021 11:31

Blinken confirms pullout of foreign troops from Afghanistan ahead of NATO meeting

Blinken confirms pullout of foreign troops from Afghanistan ahead of NATO meeting

Foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission will leave the country “in the weeks and months ahead” in a coordinated pullout, the US secretary of state has confirmed.

“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the [NATO] secretary general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together, and out together,” Antony Blinken said in a televised statement at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The top US diplomat was speaking alongside NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of a meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of member states. The plan for a likely coordinated withdrawal was confirmed earlier in the day by German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Also on rt.com ‘Go in together, go out together’: All NATO troops likely to leave Afghanistan alongside Americans, German defense minister says

The Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan involves around 10,000 troops provided by member states and some non-members. The US has the strongest contingent, with some 2,500 troops, though as many as 1,000 “off the books” US special operations soldiers are reportedly operating in the country as well.

The pullout was agreed by the administration of Donald Trump as part of a peace deal with the Taliban, which was signed in Doha in February 2020. The deal set May 1 as the deadline for a complete withdrawal of the American forces.

Biden's decision to deliver on a promise to call back troops, albeit with a delay, has been widely reported by the US media. The withdrawal is expected to be completed by September 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. The stated goal of the operation was to apprehend the mastermind behind 9/11, Osama bin Laden, and dismantle his terrorist network in the country, but it turned into the longest war in US history. US President Biden will make an official announcement later in the day, Blinken said.

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