Kabul: US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Thursday reached Kabul on an unannounced visit after Washington announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
Speaking in Kabul, Blinken said the United States never intended to have a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, Tolo News reported.
“We never intended to have a permanent military presence here. Threat from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is significantly degraded,” said Blinken.
Blinken met with President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation and discussed the new relationship with the US following President Joe Biden’s announcement on Wednesday.
“By our enduing to support to Afghanistan economically, diplomatically, politically–I do want to say that as we proceed, we will remember the extraordinary courage, strength and sacrifices our troops who served in Afghanistan in the past two decades,” added Blinken.
“And now we are embarking on a new chapter in our partnership with the Afghan people,” he said.
Blinken warned the Taliban against attacking the US forces as they are withdrawing from Afghanistan–saying any attack by the Taliban will be met with a forceful response.
“We will continue to support Afghan national security forces, but importantly we are doing everything we can now to advance diplomacy to bring in regional and international partners,” Blinken said.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that the United States will start its final withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan on May 1 and complete its pullout ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“The United States will begin our final withdrawal beginning on May 1 this year,” Biden said as he delivered his remarks on the “Way Forward in Afghanistan.”
“US troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of the heinous attack on September 11 but we will not take our eyes off the terrorist threat,” he added.
Biden said the US will use all tools at its disposal to respond to any potential Taliban attack on US forces or partners.