BELGIUM. Brussels: At a press conference in Brussels, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that the US will “rebuild and revitalize” the NATO military alliance and share their plans on any possible withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Blinken said that a review is underway by the US regarding the Afghanistan situation. He also added that he’s going to share the initial findings with NATO allies.
Blinken noted that conversations with allies over the next two days will cover a “wide agenda,” including NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan. “We have a review underway in the United States. I am here in part to share some of our initial thinking with our NATO allies but maybe even more important, I am here to listen and consult because that is what allies do.”
Leaving Afghanistan together
“We went in together, we have adjusted together and when the time is right, we will leave together. There are a common theme and a common word, and that is ‘together,’” Blinken said.
According to the Doha US-Taliban agreement signed on February 19, 2020, that opened direct talks between Afghan war parties in Doha, the US has committed to withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan by May 1. The Taliban has said that the US should walk on by its commitment to this part of the agreement.
Last week President Biden said that it would be “tough” to meet the May 1 deadline for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Blinken pledged a responsible ending for the Afghanistan war. “We are united with our NATO allies in seeking to bring a responsible end to this conflict and to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who could threaten the United States or our allies.”
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO chief said that they have an excellent opportunity to sit with their 30 allies and to discuss the situation.
“We went in together, we have adjusted together and we will leave together when the time is right,” he reiterated. “Therefore, we need to consult, to coordinate and make decisions together,” he said, repeating his US counterpart.
He said that they need to see a reduction in violence and for the Taliban to stop supporting international terrorists, including al-Qaeda.
90 days of reduction in violence
Recently, the Taliban told the Afghan TOLO News that they have proposed a 90-day of reduction in violence proposal with the Blinken led side. However, they said that there has been no overall agreement on the plan so far.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told TOLO News that the reduction in violence will not mean a complete ceasefire, but a decline in the attacks by the group in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, two senior gov officials told Reuters on Tuesday that Ashraf Ghani will propose a new presidential election within 6 months. The proposal will be under a peace plan that Ghani will put forward as a counter-offer to a US proposal that he rejected. According to the report, Ghani will unveil his proposal in gathering in Turkey next month.
A third senior official also said that Ghani’s proposal would include possible early elections, although he did not specify the exact time frame for the vote. The third official added that Ghani had already shared his road map with Khalilzad.