Pentagon aide John Kirby says the discussion will influence what recommendations Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin makes to new US President Joe Biden
Defence ministers of North Atlantic Alliance nations will discuss plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan at next week’s meeting, with no final decision at the moment. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby said this on Friday at a regular briefing for journalists.
“There is no doubt that the ministerial meeting will discuss the NATO mission in Afghanistan. “Secretary [of Defense Lloyd Austin] is looking forward to it”, – he said, when asked whether Washington intends to revise plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan as part of the peace agreements with the radical Taliban (banned in Russia).
Kirby said the discussions at the meeting would “obviously influence the Pentagon chief’s thinking” on the matter. As the defence spokesman clarified, it will also influence what advice Austin gives to the new US President Joe Biden. Kirby assured that the US does not intend to make any decisions “without proper consultation” with allies and partners.
The Pentagon spokesman said the US side was “continuing to assess” the agreements with the Taliban, including “the extent to which the parties have complied with them”.
On February 29, 2020, the previous US government, led by President Donald Trump, and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha. Under the agreements, the United States, its allies and the coalition pledge to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan within 14 months. The Taliban, in turn, guarantee that they will not use Afghan territory for activities that threaten the security of the US and its allies. The US operation in Afghanistan has been ongoing since October 2001, making it the longest overseas military campaign in US history. At its peak in 2010-2013, Western forces in Afghanistan numbered more than 150,000 troops. Major US and NATO combat forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014.
The current US government has previously warned that it will make further decisions on Afghanistan, including the withdrawal of US troops from the country, after assessing how the Taliban comply with the terms of the peace accords.
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