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NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan, US says

NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan, US says US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and the transatlantic alliance NATO's chief Jens Stoltenberg (right) hold a press conference on April 14, 2021 at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, as foreign ministers of the US, Britain, France and Germany hold talks today on Afghanistan, after the United States announced the withdrawal of all its troops from the country by September 11. (AFP/Johanna Geron)
News Desk
Bruxells, Belgium   ●   Wed, April 14, 2021 2021-04-14 18:50 24 0920e6703081f028872405a52639916a 2 World US,NATO,Afghanistan,troops,Joe-Biden Free

A coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned US withdrawal by Sept. 11, Washington's top diplomat said on Wednesday, ahead of a formal announcement of the end of two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-US forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan but still rely on U.S. air support, planning and leadership for their training mission.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels that it was time for NATO allies to make good on its mantra that allies went into Afghanistan together and would leave together.

"I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together," Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.

"We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan," Blinken said, standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,

NATO foreign and defence ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference. A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose US President Joe Biden's formal announcement, expected later on Wednesday, for a complete US withdrawal of troops by Sept. 11.

NATO partners meeting in Brussels, some physically but most virtually, look set to agree to wrap up the alliance's 9,600-strong mission in Afghanistan at the same time as the group's major military power leaves. 

"This is an important moment, for our alliance," Blinken said, quoted by AFP.

"Together, we went into Afghanistan, to deal with those who attacked us and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who might attack any of us."

Blinken said the allies "will work very closely together in the weeks and months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan."

He insisted that, despite the pull-out, "our commitment to Afghanistan, to its future, will remain".