Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Blinken visits Kabul to sell troop withdrawal

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U.S. SECRETARY of State Antony Blinken made an unannounce­d visit to Afghanista­n yesterday to promote the country’s decision to withdraw all its troops from wartorn nation and put an end America’s longestrun­ning war.

Blinken was meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and civic figures, a day after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the remaining 2,500 U.S. soldiers in Afghanista­n would be coming home by the 20th anniversar­y of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that led to the U.S. invasion. His trip also came after NATO immediatel­y followed suit, saying its roughly 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanista­n would be departing within a few months, ending the foreign military presence that had been a fact of life for a generation of Afghans already reeling from more than 40 years of conflict.

Blinken arrived in the Afghan capital of Kabul from Brussels where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed NATO officials on the move and NATO chief Jens Stoltenber­g announced the alliance would also be leaving.

President Biden said Wednesday that he will withdraw remaining U.S. troops from the “forever war” in Afghanista­n. The U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractabl­e war and expect different results, he said. The drawdown would begin rather than conclude by May 1, which has been the deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administra­tion reached with the Taliban last year.

“It is time to end America’s longest war,” Biden said, but he added that the U.S. will “not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.”

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanista­n hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” said Biden, who delivered his address from the White House Treaty Room, the same location where President George W. Bush announced the start of the war.

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