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Blinken Visits Kabul, Hours After Biden Speech on Afghan Withdrawal

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday, lower than a day after President Biden formally introduced plans to withdraw all remaining troops from the nation by Sept. 11. The journey was supposed to sign continued cooperation amid the key shift in coverage.

The withdrawal, which comes almost 20 years after the USA first despatched troops to Afghanistan, has raised profound questions within the country about its impact on Afghan civilians and the power of the federal government and the Taliban to barter a peace deal.

Mr. Biden, laying out his plan in an address to the nation on Wednesday afternoon, mentioned the nation may now not “proceed the cycle of extending or increasing our army presence in Afghanistan.”

Following the president’s announcement, NATO’s international and protection ministers agreed to start withdrawing NATO forces on Might 1 and end “inside just a few months,” the alliance mentioned in a press release.

Hours later, Mr. Blinken arrived in Kabul for the unannounced and transient journey, throughout which he visited the USA Embassy after which met with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the Afghan authorities council that has led peace negotiations with the Taliban. By Thursday night, Mr. Blinken had departed for Washington.

“I wished to display with my go to the continued dedication of the USA to the Islamic Republic and the individuals of Afghanistan,” Mr. Blinken mentioned earlier than his assembly with Mr. Ghani started. “The partnership is altering, however the partnership is enduring.”

Mr. Ghani mentioned the Afghan authorities revered the choice and was “adjusting our priorities.”

Mr. Blinken and Mr. Ghani “mentioned the significance of preserving the positive factors of the final 20 years, particularly in constructing a powerful civil society and defending the rights of ladies and ladies,” mentioned Ned Value, a spokesman for the State Division.

The pair additionally spoke about counterterrorism cooperation and their shared dedication to making sure that Al Qaeda doesn’t regain a foothold in Afghanistan.

Mr. Blinken then met with Mr. Abdullah, who mentioned he was grateful to the American individuals and the Biden administration.

“We’ve a brand new chapter, nevertheless it’s a brand new chapter that we’re writing collectively,” Mr. Abdullah added.

Mr. Blinken had traveled to Afghanistan from Brussels, the place, alongside Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, he briefed NATO officers on the choice to withdraw American troops.

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