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US vows to keep NATO in the loop over Afghanistan

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised on Tuesday to share Washington’s initial thinking on a looming deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. This as he meets with EU officials for a two-day summit in Brussels.

He made the pledge ahead of meetings with European defense and foreign ministers during his first official trip to the continent.

The US President Joe Biden said last week that it would be tough for Washington to meet the looming 1st May deadline that his predecessor Donald Trump agreed with the Taliban.

NATO allies have said they are willing to stay in Afghanistan longer if the US remains too, but they are keen for Washington to make up its mind.

Blinken said the US was still mulling over the future of the alliance’s 9,600-strong mission.

“We have a review under way in the United States,” said Blinken. “I’m here in part to share some of our initial thinking with our NATO allies.”

The Taliban has warned that the US would be responsible for the consequences if it reneged on the arrangement.

Trump slashed US troop numbers to 2,500, the lowest level in two decades, but American support remains vital to keep the NATO mission going.

In the deal, the Taliban agreed to cut violence. However the US has complained that talks have stalled and bloodshed has flared.

The US and its allies are desperate to keep Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terror groups. “Whatever the United States ends up doing will be informed by the thinking of our NATO allies, which I’ll take back with me after these conversations,” Blinken said.

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