US President Joe Biden put at rest speculations on withdrawal from Afghanistan on Thursday when he said that 2,500 troops could still be in the war-torn country beyond May 1 deadline set last year in February by his predecessor Donald Trump.
“It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline,” Biden told reporters during a White House press conference, his first as president.
Citing “tactical reasons” for the possible delay, Biden said, however, troops stay would not go beyond 2022.
“I can’t picture that being the case,” he said. “It is not my intention to stay there for a long time.”
“The question is how and under what circumstances do we meet that agreement that was made by President (Donald) Trump to leave under a deal that looks like it’s not being able to be worked out to begin with,” he said.
Biden initiated a review of the February 2020 deal between the Trump administration and the Taliban shortly after he took office. And while that review has yet to be formally completed, several high-ranking officials have questioned whether the Taliban have kept their promise.
“It’s clear that the Taliban have not upheld what they said they would do and reduce the violence,” Gen Richard Clarke, the commander of all US special forces, told US lawmakers earlier Thursday. “It is clear they took a deliberate approach and increased their violence since the peace accords were signed.”
Gen Clarke warned that the current government in Afghanistan could fall and that its security forces could be overrun by the Taliban should US troops leave.
President Biden said that “we’ve been meeting with our allies, those other nations that have NATO allies who have troops in Afghanistan as well.”
“And if we leave we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way.”