US troop pullout proceeding 'slightly' ahead of schedule in Afghanistan, US defence secretary Austin informs Congress

WION Web Team
Washington Published: May 28, 2021, 03:53 PM(IST)

US Marine shows a photograph from a camera to a young Afghan boy in Helmand province Photograph:( AFP )

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Reports say Austin had earlier spoken to Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa expressing the Biden administration intention “to continue to work together to further regional security and stability.”

In a hearing on Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told the US Congress that the troop pullout has been proceeding "slightly" ahead of schedule in Afghanistan.

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"We accomplished the mission for which our troops were sent to Afghanistan," the US defence secretary told lawmakers.

President Biden had set September 11 as the date for the complete pullout of US troops from Afghanistan, which would be the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Tower and Pentagon.

Biden had, however, asserted that the withdrawal would be conducted "responsibly, deliberately, and safely" while informing that the US will not take its "eye off the terrorist threat".

In a statement, the US president had said that Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey, should do more as they have "significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan."

Amid speculation that Pakistan would offer military bases to the US, Pakistan's foreign office had said, "There is no US military or airbase in Pakistan; nor is any such proposal envisaged."

"Pakistan and the US have a framework of cooperation in terms of Air Lines of Communication (ALOC) and Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) in place since 2001. No new agreement has been made in this regard," the Pakistan foreign office stated.

Pakistan's statement came after the commander of the US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie Jr had told the US Senate that some US troops will remain “stationed nearby Afghanistan” even as President Biden informed that his government was in talks with with “Central Asian neighbours of Afghanistan” to have US troops stationed on the ground nearby.
 
Reports say Austin had earlier spoken to Pakistan Army chief General Bajwa expressing the Biden administration intention “to continue to work together to further regional security and stability.”

"We urge neighbouring countries not to allow anyone to do so, if such a step is taken again, it will be a great and historic mistake and disgrace," the Taliban had said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Taliban had urged neighbouring countries not to allow US bases on their soil.

In his statement, Biden had made it clear that the US would keep providing "assistance to the Afghan national defences and security forces" although the US president maintained the US will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily. 

(With Agency inputs)

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