US President Joe Biden has not yet made a final decision on the timing of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, contrary to media reports, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a press conference in New Delhi.
Earlier, NBC, citing informed sources, reported that Biden is studying various options for the schedule for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. According to the sources, the Pentagon offered Biden several options: withdraw troops by May 1, leave them indefinitely, or for a limited period, which may last another six months after the agreed deadline-until November. In a recent interview with ABC, Biden said that the United States can still withdraw troops from Afghanistan by May 1, but a decision on this matter has not yet been finalized.
“I am aware of the existing speculation that the president has decided to leave the troops there until November. To the best of my knowledge, as a person who is quite seriously involved in these discussions, the president has not decided or made any statements about when he will decide to withdraw the troops… No decision has been made yet. No decision has been made on the duration of the stay or the number of troops at the moment,” Austin said, according to a transcript of his speech posted on the department’s website.
In Afghanistan, there is a confrontation between government forces and militants of the radical Taliban movement, which previously seized significant territory in rural areas of the country and launched an offensive on major cities. The National Defense and Security Forces of Afghanistan are conducting joint counter-terrorism operations throughout the country. On September 12, 2020, peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban started in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
The United States and the Taliban signed the first peace agreement in Doha in more than 18 years of war. It provides for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in 14 months and the beginning of an inter-Afghan dialogue after the exchange of prisoners. Since the signing of the agreement, the Taliban has repeatedly accused the US of violating the agreement.