Lloyd Austin arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday for his first trip to the war-torn country as Defense Secretary amid questions about how long US troops will remain in the country.
Austin arrived in Kabul from India and is expected to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other top officials, the Associated Press reported, citing state-owned Radio and Television Afghanistan.
Former President Donald Trump negotiated a May 1 pullout with Taliban forces, but President Biden is considering delaying that deadline until November, the AP reported.
“Biden wants out,” a person familiar with the discussions told the AP. “Look, you own this now, Mr. President, and we can’t guarantee you what will happen if we just precipitously pull everyone out,” the person said, adding that the Taliban hasn’t lived up to its agreements.
Among Biden’s options to extricate America from its longest war are pulling troops out on or before May 1, keeping the military stationed there indefinitely or for a period the president defines – the six-month extension, the report said.
Biden called the May 1 deadline “tough” in an interview last week with ABC News but said any extension won’t be a “lot longer.”
“That was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the president, the former president worked out,” Biden said. “We’re in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision is in process now.”
The president said he is talking to US allies about the troop withdrawal.
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