Biden administration considering 6-month extension for USA troops in Afghanistan

Daniel Fowler
March 19, 2021

Under the deal, signed in February 2020, former President Donald Trump agreed with the Taliban to pull USA troops from the country by May 1. "And so we're in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision's going to be - it's in process now", Biden said.

Other options are still on the table, including a full withdrawal by May 1, but a sign of President Joe Biden's current thinking came this week when he told ABC News he didn't think it would "take a lot longer", and said a full withdrawal by May 1 "could happen, but it is tough".

"The fact is that this was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the former president worked out".

"The failure to have an orderly transition from the Trump presidency to my presidency. has cost me time and consequences".

"I started Jihad (holy war) to remove foreign forces from my country and establish an Islamic government and Jihad will continue until we reach that goal through a political agreement", said Khairullah Khairkhwa, a member of the negotiating team, who was one of five Taliban freed from USA prison on Guantanamo Bay in 2013 in exchange for the release of a captured USA soldier.

This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to display "urgent leadership" in talks to craft a peace plan with the Taliban.

Trump, who dubbed the conflict America's "endless war", cut troop numbers during his final days in office to 2,500 - their lowest figure since the start of operations 20 years ago. The Taliban continues to deny that al-Qaida terrorists are responsible for the attacks on Sep.

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But peace talks held in Qatar since September have made little progress.

Washington also wants to jump-start the peace process and get the Taliban and Afghan government to agree to some form of power-sharing.

"They should go", Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban negotiation team, told reporters, warning that staying beyond May 1 would breach the deal.

The interview aired one day before Russia, China, the US, Pakistan, a delegation of major Afghan leaders and opposition members, and Taliban negotiators were expected to meet in Moscow in an attempt to refresh stalled peace talks.

A senior Afghan official says the United States has presented a draft peace deal between the Taliban the Afghan government, calling for the formation of an interim government.

The US Department of State on Monday said Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, will also attend the meeting. In a draft peace proposal first reported by Tolo News, the U.S.is calling for replacing the current government with a transitional peace government, a new constitution written by a committee that is nearly half-Taliban, new Taliban lawmakers, a new Supreme Court that is nearly half-Taliban, and a national cease-fire. So we're reducing the force.

Some US officials and worldwide experts have warned that if US-led forces were to leave the country before a peace deal is formally hashed out, Afghanistan could fall into a new civil war.

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