“Clearly, the violence is just too excessive proper now and extra progress must be to be made within the Afghan-led negotiations,” Secretary Austin mentioned at a Pentagon information convention on Friday.
“I urge all events to decide on the trail in the direction of peace, and the violence should lower now,” Austin mentioned a day after discussing Afghanistan with NATO defence ministers in Brussels.
The US “won’t undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan” that places NATO forces in danger, Austin mentioned, including “no choices about our future pressure posture have been made.”
“Within the meantime, present missions will proceed and, in fact, commanders have the appropriate and the accountability to defend themselves and their Afghan companions towards assault,” he mentioned.
New US President Joe Biden faces a thorny selection in Afghanistan: whether or not to withdraw all US forces by the tip of April – as promised to the Taliban by the previous Trump administration – or prolong the US troop presence whereas attempting to maintain troubled Afghan peace talks.
Taliban deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on February 16 known as on the US to honour its settlement concerning worldwide troop withdrawals and warned that the group wouldn’t enable persevering with interference in Afghan affairs.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the US mentioned on Friday the Biden administration ought to negotiate with the Taliban on any choice to maintain troops within the nation.
“The primary celebration that must be consulted is the Taliban. That’s the place the method ought to begin,” Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan advised an internet discussion board sponsored by the Stimson Heart.
“To current this as a fait accompli, I believe, will solely create problem,” Khan cautioned, in line with the Reuters information company.
In Washington, in the meantime, there are growing calls by overseas coverage leaders and members of Congress for a seamless US presence in Afghanistan.
The bipartisan US Afghanistan Research Group, mandated by Congress, really useful a brand new method to Afghanistan earlier this month. Leaders of the group testified on Capitol Hill on Friday.
“We advocate that US troops stay past Could 1,” mentioned Kelly Ayotte, a co-chair of the research group and a former Republican US senator.
“We imagine a precipitous withdrawal of US and worldwide troops in Could, can be catastrophic for Afghanistan, resulting in civil struggle and permit the reconstitution of terror teams which might threaten america,” Ayotte mentioned.
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 al-Qaeda assaults. On the time, the Taliban managed the nation and had given al-Qaeda secure harbour.
Retired Common Joseph Dunford, a former chairman of the US navy’s Joint Chiefs of Workers below President Barack Obama, mentioned the research group sees a chance now for a “broader diplomatic effort in help of the Afghan peace negotiations”.
“There does actually seem like an finish state that might fulfill all regional stakeholders to incorporate Pakistan, China, Russia, India, and others,” Dunford mentioned.
Each Republicans and Democrats in Congress mentioned they recognise the state of affairs in Afghanistan is fragile and withdrawing now might end in a lack of progress made throughout the previous 20 years.
“A withdrawal made below present circumstances will seemingly result in a collapse of the Afghan state,” mentioned Consultant Stephen Lynch, the Democratic chairman of a Home Authorities Oversight subcommittee.
Consultant Paul Gosar, a Republican, mentioned he doubts the Taliban will be relied upon for a sturdy peace settlement.
“Basically, we’re discussing struggle termination, and banking on the idea that US involvement within the present civil struggle in Afghanistan will finish when the first risk – the Taliban – has dedicated to peace,” Gosar mentioned. “It appears reasonably not possible.”
The US and the Taliban reached an settlement in February 2020 – after months of negotiations in Doha, Qatar – that known as for a everlasting ceasefire, peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities, and a withdrawal of all overseas forces by Could 1.
Peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul authorities started in September however have been marred by persevering with battle, assaults and Taliban-linked assassinations.
There are about 2,500 US troops and 10,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan now. A US choice to stay previous Could 1 would seemingly end in renewed battle with the Taliban and require the deployment of two,000 or extra US forces, Dunford mentioned.