US troops won't leave Afghanistan in May: Senator

2/8/2021

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 Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said that US troops will not leave Afghanistan by May as mentioned in the landmark peace deal inked between Washington and the Taliban, saying "we're going to leave when the conditions are right".

Graham made the remarks in a CBS News interview on Sunday night when he was asked about the proposed withdrawal of American troops from the war-torn country.

Backing decision by President Joe Biden's administration to review the US-Taliban agreement which was signed on February 29, 2020, the South Carolina Senator said the militant group has "been cheating... They haven't been complying".

"I like what (Secretary of State Antonny) Tony Blinken and the Biden administration is doing. They're re-evaluating our presence in Afghanistan to keep the footprint low, but not to walk away and lose all the gains we've achieved.

"If we leave too soon without a conditions-based withdrawal, IS (Islamic State) and Al Qaeda will come roaring back. Women will suffer greatly," Graham told CBS News.

The Senator's remarks come as no meeting has been held between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban negotiators in Doha over the last 19 days after the peace talks resumed between the two sides on January 5 following a break.

The peace talks had started on September 12, 2020, following the US-Taliban peace deal to end the war, paving the way for the withdrawal of thousands of US forces in Afghanistan and facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue.

Late last month in his first media address after taking office, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby claimed that the Taliban was jeopardising the landmark agreement.

In response, a Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told an Afghan media outlet that the group remained committed to the agreement "and we call on the other side to stay firm on its commitments".

The war in Afghanistan, which has caused about 2,400 US military deaths, is the longest one in American history.

Former President Donald Trump had sought a full withdrawal of forces from the country, but some of his senior aides from the military and the Pentagon suggested a more cautious approach.

Currently there are about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan.


Source: IANS

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