US flag flying over mission support site in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan
Afghanistan

US Secretary Of State Visits Afghanistan Following Withdrawal Announcement

US President Joe Biden announced earlier in the week that American troops will leave Afghanistan by 11 September.

US flag flying over mission support site in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan

The US Secretary of State has made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan following President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw all American troops from the country.

Anthony Blinken sought to assure senior Afghan politicians that the US remains committed to the country despite the announcement that the 2,500 US troops will leave by 11 September – 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"I wanted to demonstrate with my visit the ongoing commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan," Mr Blinken told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as they met at the presidential palace in Kabul.

"The partnership is changing, but the partnership itself is enduring."

The Afghan President told Mr Blinken they "respect the decision" and are "adjusting" the country's priorities.

The US Secretary of State also met the head of the National Reconciliation Council and repeated his message, saying that "we have a new chapter, but it is a new chapter that we're writing together."

Abdullah Abdullah said: "We are grateful to your people, your country, your administration."

US American soldiers on foot patrol in Afghanistan 221218 CREDIT US ARMY
President Joe Biden announced this week he aims to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (Picture: US Army).

Mr Blinken arrived in Kabul from Brussels, where he and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed NATO officials on the US decision and won quick approval from the allies to end their Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

NATO immediately followed Mr Biden's lead on Wednesday, saying roughly 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanistan would be departing within a few months.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are at a stalemate but are supposed to resume later this month in Istanbul.

Under an agreement signed between the Trump administration and the Taliban last year, the US was to have completed its military withdrawal by 1 May.

Although Mr Biden is blowing through that deadline, angering the Taliban leadership, his plan calls for the withdrawal to begin on 1 May.

The NATO withdrawal will commence the same day.

The Taliban's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed warned on Wednesday that "problems will be compounded," if the US misses the 1 May deadline.

Mr Austin said that the US military, after withdrawing from Afghanistan, will keep counterterrorism "capabilities" in the region to keep pressure on extremist groups operating within Afghanistan.

Roughly 750 British troops are currently in Afghanistan in a training capacity (Picture: MOD).

Coalition troops, including British personnel, have had a presence in Afghanistan since 2001, with about 750 UK troops currently in the country in a training capacity.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned that any attacks on allied troops in Afghanistan will be "met with a forceful response" as he confirmed the "drawdown" of UK troops.

Mr Wallace said the security of British personnel still in the country "remains our priority", with discussions to be had with allies about the precise details.