© Reuters. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, in Kabul
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Kabul on Thursday to assist the Afghan government the day after US President Joe Biden announced that US forces would be withdrawing after nearly 20 years of war.
Biden's decision sparked a decision by NATO allies to withdraw their troops as well, even though the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani remains embroiled in fierce fighting with Taliban insurgents and a US-backed peace process that is characterized by uncertainty.
The withdrawals of foreign troops have raised concerns that the country could break out in full civil war and provide space for al-Qaeda to rebuild.
Blinken met with Ghani at the Presidential Palace after first greeting U.S. soldiers at the heavily fortified American embassy.
"The reason I'm here, so soon after the president's speech last night, is to literally demonstrate by our presence that we are permanently committed to Afghanistan," said Blinken in the embassy, according to a report in the press pool.
At the palace he assured Ghani that "the partnership will change, but the partnership will last".
He was apparently referring to Biden's assurances that the United States would continue to provide diplomacy and assistance to the Afghan government and seek a peace deal with Taliban Islamists.
Blinken also met with Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, who expressed support for the US decision.
"This does not mean the end of relations and cooperation between the two countries. A new chapter in relations and cooperation between the two countries has returned and we will continue our cooperation in various areas in this chapter," said Abdullah in a statement .
Biden said Wednesday that US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan starting May 1 and disappeared before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attack on the United States that sparked the US-led invasion will be.
Foreign troops under NATO command will also withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with the US withdrawal, the NATO allies agreed. The withdrawal of foreign troops will be completed by September 11th.
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