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Biden to pull US troops out of Afghanistan


US President Joe Biden plans to withdraw the remaining 2500 US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, 20 years to the day after the al Qaeda attacks that triggered America’s longest war, US officials said on Tuesday.

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The disclosure of the plan came on the same day that the US intelligence community released a gloomy outlook for Afghanistan, forecasting “low” chances of a peace deal this year and warning that its government would struggle to hold the Taliban insurgency at bay if the US-led coalition withdraws support.

Biden’s decision would miss a May 1 deadline for withdrawal agreed to with the Taliban by his predecessor Donald Trump.

The insurgents had threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops if that deadline was missed, but Biden would still be setting a near-term withdrawal date, potentially allaying Taliban concerns.

The Democratic president will publicly announce his decision on Wednesday, the White House said.

A senior Biden administration official said the pullout would begin before May 1 and could be complete well before the September 11 deadline.

Significantly, it will not be subject to further conditions, including security or human rights.

“The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe in staying in Afghanistan forever,” the official said in a briefing with reporters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to discuss the decision with NATO allies in Brussels on Wednesday, sources said.

The majority of Australian troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014 after joining the invading coalition in November 2001. A total of 41 Australian soldiers have died in combat operations in Afghanistan.

Biden’s decision suggests he has concluded that the US military presence will no longer be decisive in achieving a lasting peace in Afghanistan, a core Pentagon assumption that has long underpinned American troop deployments there.

“There is no military solution to the problems plaguing Afghanistan, and we will focus our efforts on supporting the ongoing peace process,” the senior administration official said.

The US intelligence report, which was sent to Congress, stated: “Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory”.

It was those ties that triggered US military intervention in 2001 following al Qaeda’s September 11 attacks, when hijackers slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, killing almost 3,000 people.

The Biden administration has said al Qaeda does not pose a threat to the US homeland now.

Meanwhile, Biden has proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin they hold a summit in the coming months, according to the White House.

Biden suggested during a phone call that their meeting could take place “in a third country” to discuss “the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia,” a statement said.

-with AAP


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