By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: Less than a day after US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the country’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kabul to assure Afghan officials of continued U.S. support.
In the capital Kabul, Blinken met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to make clear the United States continues to stand with Afghanistan and its people.
According to the Presidential Palace, Blinken told President Ghani that the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan will not mean the weakening of strategic relations between the two countries.
“The United States will honor its commitments to the government and people of Afghanistan,” he said.
According to presidential palace, Blinken said the United States would continue its diplomatic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and to Afghan forces and will continue its efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process.
During the meeting, which was also attended by the Vice Presidents, a number of ministers and government officials, President Ghani welcomed the US Secretary of State to Afghanistan and praised their and the international community’s support for Afghanistan in the last two decades.
Emphasizing the common struggle of all countries against terrorism, the President said that “we respect the decision of the United States to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and that the Government of Afghanistan will work to cooperate in the transition process.
Recalling the capabilities of the Afghan security and defense forces, President Ghani said that “our brave security and defense forces have shown that they alone are capable of defending their homeland and that the people of Afghanistan support their security and defense forces.
“Now that the United States intends to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, there is a need for a clear debate on the beginning of a new chapter in cooperation based on mutual respect and common interests between the two countries,” the president said.
Blinken also spoke with Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan government, where he reiterated the U.S. commitment to the ongoing peace process.
“I’ve come to Afghanistan today because it was important to me and important to President Biden to convey in person America’s commitment to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan and the Afghan people,” Blinken told reporters from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul after the meetings.
On Wednesday, Biden announced all 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by Sept. 11, the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that led to the United States’ longest war.
Shortly after the announcement, NATO said it agreed with the plan and would begin withdrawing its forces starting May 1. In total, NATO and U.S. troops amount to more than 9,500 service members in the country.
Blinken told reporters Thursday that the United States had never intended to have a permanent military presence in Afghanistan and that they have achieved their military objective and it was time for U.S. troops to return home. However, that does not signal the end of their relationship with Afghanistan, he said.
“Even when our troops come, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue,” he said. “Our security partnership will endure.”
He said there is strong bipartisan support for the Afghan Security Forces and in the exit of U.S. troops the State Department will intensity diplomacy with the Afghan government, the Taliban and regional partners who have a stake in the country’s future.
“We’ll stand with the Afghan people, including through economic investment and development assistance, as they work toward a more prosperous future,” he said. “We’ll continue to support civil society and to advocate for equal rights for women, including their meaningful participation in the ongoing negotiations and their equal representation throughout society.”