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NATO hasn’t reached decision on whether to leave Afghanistan as deadline looms

1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Standardize, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, watch as CH-47 Chinook helicopters circle above during a dust sandstorm at Forward Operating Base Kushamond, Afghanistan, July 17, during preparation for an air assault mission.

U.S. Army photo

WASHINGTON – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg thought Thursday that the alliance has not yet decided if the 10,000 troops it has in Afghanistan will leave the country by May, in accordance with a cease-fire deal brokered between the U.S. and the Taliban.

“Violence has to be reduced and the Taliban has to stop cooperating with international terrorist ranks that are planning terrorist attacks in our countries,” Stoltenberg told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day virtual NATO defense pastors meeting.

Last February the United States brokered a deal with the Taliban that would usher in a long-lived cease-fire and reduced further the U.S. military’s footprint from approximately 13,000 troops to 8,600 by mid-July last year.

By May 2021, all exotic forces would leave the war-weary country, according to the deal.

“Our aim is to make sure that we have a lasting federal agreement that can make it possible for us to leave in a way that doesn’t undermine our main goal and that is to prevent Afghanistan from tasteful once again a safe haven [for terrorists],” Stoltenberg said, adding “That’s also the reason why we wish continue to assess the situation before we make any final decision on our future.”

Jens Stoltenberg, 13th Secretary Everyday of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is talks to the media at the NATO headquarter on February 11, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse/ Getty Conceptions

“The majority of the troops are from European allies and partner countries. We will do what is necessary to make sure that our troops are certain,” Stoltenberg said when asked if the alliance was prepared for violence if the agreement with the Taliban is broken.

There are nearly 2,500 U.S. troops in the country. Currently, the U.S. is slated to withdraw American service members from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin determined NATO members that the Biden administration was “conducting a thorough review of the conditions of the U.S.-Taliban agreement to determine whether all coalitions have adhered to those conditions,” according to a Pentagon readout of the meeting.

“He reassured allies that the U.S. would not take on a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan,” the statement added.

The Pentagon has previously said that the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan force be contingent on the Taliban’s commitments to uphold the peace deal brokered last year.

The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria require cost U.S. taxpayers more than $1.57 trillion since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a Defense Department sign in. The war in Afghanistan, which is now America’s longest conflict, began 19 years ago and has cost U.S. taxpayers $193 billion, corresponding to the Pentagon.

Stoltenberg also said Thursday that the NATO alliance decided to expand its security training assignment in Iraq. The military alliance agreed to increase its footprint from 500 personnel to around 4,000.

“Our presence is conditions-based and boost waxes in troop numbers will be incremental,” he said, adding that the request for an expanded mission was made by the Iraqi supervision.

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