NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is not a risk-free decision, but the alternative would be an open-ended military presence to withstand growing Taliban violence. He said that this is not an easy decision, and it entails risks. He said alternative to leaving in an orderly fashion is to be prepared for a long-term, open-ended military commitment, with potentially more NATO troops.
Stoltenberg was speaking at a joint press conference yesterday with US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin. Austin said the United States will respond forcefully to any Taliban attack against US forces and allies during their withdrawal from Afghanistan. He further said there is still too much violence in Afghanistan and the Taliban is expected to try to reverse some progress made in the country over the last nearly 20 years.
Blinken in his remarks said that the United States remains committed to continuing supporting Afghanistan after the withdrawal of its troops and would include a provision of visas for asylum-seekers under a Special Immigrant Visa Program. Blinken pointed out that the United States military withdrawal from Afghanistan will not end its commitment to the country’s development, humanitarian assistance and security forces.
Earlier, US President Joe Biden announced that the United States will begin withdrawing its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by May 1 and hope to be completely out of the country by September 11.