New Defense Chief Urges Taliban to Curtail Attacks
WASHINGTON – In his first press conference as Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said an end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan depends entirely on the Taliban reducing attacks on NATO forces.
“Clearly the violence is too high right now,” he said. “More progress needs to be made in the Afghan-led negotiations.
“I urge all parties to choose the path towards peace. The violence must decrease now,” he added.
Austin also declined to say whether U.S. will meet the May 1 deadline for full troop withdrawal. Another alternative would be for the Biden administration and NATO to try to renegotiate the current peace deal with the Taliban and keep some troops there longer.
“The bottom line is this,” he said. “We are committed to a responsible and sustainable end to this war, while preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups that threaten the interests of the United States and our allies, and ensuring a just and durable end to the long-running conflict.
“We are mindful of the looming deadlines. But we want to do this methodically and deliberately, and I certainly won’t get ahead of any decisions, nor will I preview the advice that I plan to give to the president,” Austin added.