Feb 19, 2021 06:23 UTC
  • No decision on any NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says defense ministers from the Western military alliance made no decision at a recent meeting in Brussels on whether or when to pull out of war-torn Afghanistan.

"At this stage, we have made no final decision on the future of our presence," Stoltenberg said after a video conference with allied defense ministers on Thursday.

The defense ministers met to discuss the possibility of staying in Afghanistan beyond the May withdrawal deadline agreed between the Taliban militant group and the United States under the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

Key on the agenda at the two-day virtual conference in Brussels was the future of the US-led forces in the war-torn country.

The NATO chief said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised to consult with partners on the way forward.

"As the May 1 deadline is approaching, NATO allies will continue to closely consult and coordinate in the coming weeks. We are faced with many dilemmas, and there are no easy options," Stoltenberg said.

The administration of the current US President Joe Biden is reviewing whether to stick to the looming deadline to withdraw or risk a bloody backlash from the Taliban.

Other NATO members have signaled a desire within the alliance to stay in Afghanistan beyond the deadline. They are willing to remain in Afghanistan if Washington does so.

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