Washington: US President Joe Biden has announced that all US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan before September 11, a move to end the longest war in American history.
“The United States will begin our final withdrawal, begin it on May 1 of this year,” Biden said on Wednesday in his remarks at the White House, Xinhua news agency reported.
“US troops, as well as forces 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 11th.”
“It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home,” he said, noting that the US has achieved counterterrorism objectives in Afghanistan.
In his remarks, Biden made clear that the withdrawal is not subject to any changes of conditions on the ground.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result,” he said.
“I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
The upcoming September 11 is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that drew the United States into war in Afghanistan. Biden said that 2,488 US military personnel were killed, and 20,722 have been wounded in this longest war in American history.
Biden highlighted that the US would continue to support the Afghan government and provide assistance to the Afghan military after the withdrawal. “While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue.”
Meanwhile, he voiced US support for the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban facilitated by the United Nations.
Biden spoke with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani earlier in the day. The two leaders discussed continued commitment to a strong bilateral partnership following the departure of US troops from Afghanistan, according to a readout issued by the White House.
The latest decision extends the deadline negotiated between the previous administration and the Afghan Taliban last year to pull US troops out of the country on May 1.
The United States and the Taliban signed an agreement in late February 2020, which called for a full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban meets the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with terrorist groups.
The Biden administration had concluded that the Taliban had not met its commitment under the US-Taliban deal.
The Pentagon said that there are roughly 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, but US media recently said the number did not include 1,000 more US special forces in the country. Besides, about 7,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan rely on US logistics and security support.