US & NATO to withdraw forces from Afghanistan starting 1st May, Taliban lays conditions for talks
The US and its NATO allies have decided to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan beginning 1st May. In a joint press conference with the US Secretaries of State and Defense, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “our drawdown will be orderly, coordinated, and deliberate”. He added: “we went into Afghanistan together, we have adjusted our posture together, and we are united in leaving together”.
“US forces as well as troops deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11 (2001),” said US President Joe Biden.
The US and the NATO forces operated in Afghanistan for almost 20 years after invoking the Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty for the first time in support of the United States after 11 September 2001 attacks, widely known as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “Since 9/11 there have been no terrorist attacks on Allied soil organised from Afghanistan,” said the joint NATO release.
Article 5 provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.NATO
Afghanistan’s President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani in a tweet said “Afghanistan’s proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful.”
The Taliban has said it will not attend an upcoming Istanbul conference until all foreign troops leave Afghanistan. “Until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland, the Islamic Emirate [Taliban] will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan,” said spokesman Mohammad Naeem. The conference in the Turkish metropolis has been scheduled for April 24.
President Biden also warned Taliban against attacking the withdrawing forces. “The US will begin our final withdrawal on May 1 of this year. We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit, we will do it responsibly, deliberately and safely …We will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners …The Taliban should know that if they attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves and our partners will all the tools at our disposal,” he said.
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