US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that American forces will only withdraw from Afghanistan in co-ordination with their Nato allies, who they have fought alongside there for nearly two decades.
“We’ve been very clear, and Nato has been very clear, that the approach that we’re taking to this is we went in together, we’ve adapted to circumstances together and we will come out together when the time is right,” Mr Blinken said in an interview with CNN.
“And what we’re focused on now is looking at the May 1 deadline.”
“One of the things that was important was not only to share our thinking as we’re going through this review, including the May 1 deadline, but to listen, to hear from our partners who are so invested: their ideas, their thoughts, their analysis.”
While the US agreed to a May 1 withdrawal deadline as part of a diplomatic agreement reached with the Taliban last year, President Joe Biden said at a Wednesday press conference that the date would be “hard to meet” for “tactical reasons”.
However, he also said that he does not expect US troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2022.
There are currently about 11,000 Nato troops stationed in Afghanistan – 2,500 of whom are American forces.
“There are actually more European forces in Afghanistan right now than there are American, so they’re deeply invested in this with us, and they’ve been shoulder to shoulder with us from the very start,” said Mr Blinken.
The US has accused the Taliban of failing to live up to its end of last year’s agreement.
This requires it to cut ties with Al Qaeda and cease terrorist attacks.
The congressionally mandated Afghanistan study group in February released its final report, which advises against the May 1 withdrawal deadline until the Taliban meets these conditions and reduces violence against the Afghan people.