A coalition of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato)-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned US withdrawal by September 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 US 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.