Blinken Assures US Will Not Disengage from Afghanistan

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday assured that the United States will not disengage from Afghanistan despite withdrawing its troops from the country.

“We’ve also been clear that even as our forces are drawing down and pulling out of Afghanistan, we are not withdrawing, we are not disengaging,” Blinken said at a press conference in London with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“We intend to be very active diplomatically in terms of trying to advance negotiations in a political settlement between the government of Afghanistan, the Taliban and other key parties,” Blinken said.

The US is trying to advance negotiations in a political settlement between the Afghan government and Taliban, Blinken said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that they discussed a whole range of security issues, including Iran, Afghanistan, continuing concerns about Russia, in particular on the border with Ukraine.

“We certainly see the priority as protecting our troops in the period between now and September, making sure that we preserve the ability to deal with counterterrorism, that the gains that were hard won in Afghanistan are not lost, and also ultimately promoting dialogue and a peace process that benefits all Afghans and leaves Afghanistan as stable as possible, as inclusive as possible,” Raab said.

Biden last month announced that the remaining 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan would leave by September 11.

Other NATO allies confirmed that they would follow suit, including the UK, which is to begin withdrawing its remaining 750 military trainers this month.

Back in Kabul, efforts are underway to build political consensus around the peace process as US troops are withdrawing.

As part of these efforts, President Ghani met with political parties on Monday and discussed the “new chapter” following the withdrawal of foreign forces, the Presidential Palace said.

The key is to achieve a national consensus and preserve Afghanistan’s impartiality at the regional and international level, President Ghani said at the meeting, according to Palace.

Politicians on Monday said that the country will move toward a crisis after the full withdrawal of international troops if a political consensus on the republic side of the peace process is not achieved.

Zabihullah Mujaddedi, head of the Jabha-e-Milli Nejat-e-Afghanistan, who recently met with President Ghani, said that the president has begun efforts to create a national, political consensus around the peace process, and Mujaddedi suggested that rigorous efforts should be sustained.

Ghani has had separate meetings with known political figures over the last few days, including Mohammad Mohaqiq, Zabihullah Mujaddedi, Haji Din Mohammad, Saadat Mansoor Naderi, Mir Rahman Rahmani and Fazl Hadi Muslimyar.

Mujadeddi said that the republic’s peace plan and political consensus around peace were discussed in his meeting with President Ghani.

The US began its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan this week, and, based on President Joe Biden’s decision, the process was to be completed by Sept. 11. According to the Doha agreement, the US was expected to complete the withdrawal by May 1.

The US and NATO forces handed Camp Antonic in Helmand province to Afghan forces on May 2.