Washington, April 7
The removal of any US troops from Afghanistan would be orderly and in consultation with its allies and partners, the Biden Administration said.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday said Afghanistan can never again become a platform for terrorist attacks that would threaten the US or its allies.
“President (Joe) Biden has been clear that he wants to see an end to our military presence in Afghanistan. As he has said, as Secretary (of State, Tony) Blinken has said, as (Defense) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin has said, as others have said, we are committed to bringing a responsible end to the conflict, removing our troops from harm’s way, and ensuring…importantly, that Afghanistan can never again become a platform, a launch pad, for terrorist attacks that would threaten the US or our allies,” he told reporters at his daily news conference.
The recently-held NATO ministerial in Brussels there was an agreement on this issue and also on the path forward when it comes to Afghanistan, he said.
“The international community is similarly united in the belief that there isn’t a military solution to what we have long faced in Afghanistan. It’s a conflict that has to end through a political solution and a comprehensive ceasefire, processes that are at their core Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” Price asserted.
At the same time, he conceded there was no update in terms of where the President may be thinking of post-May 1 when the agreement with the Taliban inked by the previous Trump administration meets the deadline of withdrawal of troops. Biden has ruled out withdrawal of US troops by May 1.
“He has obviously spoken to this in the recent days, in the context of the impending May 1 deadline. What I can say is that any removal of troops, any withdrawal plan, would be orderly and it would, of course, be informed by those consultations with our partners and allies,” Price said.
Reiterating that there is no military solution to this, he said that a comprehensive ceasefire and a political settlement have to be arrived at through diplomacy, and that is precisely what Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, what his team is engaged in.
“He is currently in Doha, meeting with both the Islamic Republic and the Taliban negotiating teams to push for further progress in negotiations and a reduction in that violence. He’s also meeting with other international partners to explore how it might be that the international community can best help the two negotiating sides accelerate that process,” Price said.
He said they want to create conditions that are conducive to those peace negotiations moving forward in a way that is constructive.
“We have also said in the recent days that levels of violence are unacceptably high, and we have consistently called on the Taliban to reduce those levels of violence. That is precisely because we want to create conditions that are conducive to those peace negotiations moving forward in a way that is constructive and in a way that is promising,” he said.
“The extended Troika…released a statement – it’s now last month – calling for the Taliban not to launch a spring offensive and to avoid further casualties, helping to create, again, an environment that is, in fact, conducive to a negotiated political settlement that Ambassador Khalilzad, his team, and our partners are seeking to achieve,” Price said in response to a question. PTI