No final decision has been taken, the official said. NBC News first reported that a six-month extension was under consideration.
The official noted that the United States will want the Taliban to agree to the extension. Other options are still on the table, including a complete withdrawal by May 1, but a sign of President Joe Biden’s current thinking came this week when he told ABC News he didn’t think not that it ‘would take a lot longer’, and said a full withdrawal by May 1 ‘could happen, but it’s difficult’.
Biden has some domestic political coverage – some members of Congress are concerned about a complete withdrawal. And the president sharply criticized the details the Trump administration negotiated.
“I’m in the process of making that decision now as to when to leave. The point is, it wasn’t a very solidly negotiated deal that the president – the former president – reached. So we are in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and this decision – it’s underway right now, ”Biden told ABC.
A report by an influential study group on Afghanistan co-chaired by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford recommended a more flexible timetable based on conditions such as reduced violence .
One critical issue is that the current deal with the Taliban does not potentially recognize hundreds of US special operations forces in the country that are not part of the current group of 2,500 US troops. If it remains to assist in counterterrorism missions beyond a withdrawal, the United States may have to largely acknowledge that presence.
Several defense officials have previously told CNN that the U.S.-led NATO alliance would like to see decisions made by April 1 due to challenges with the withdrawal of weapons and American equipment, while some of them would fall into the hands of the Taliban.
A Pentagon report said the complete withdrawal could be devastating for “the survival of the Afghan state as we know it”.
But as Biden weighs his options, the U.S. military continues to operate in the country, having carried out airstrikes there this week against the Taliban.
US airstrikes in recent days have targeted “Taliban fighters actively attacking and maneuvering (Afghan National Security Forces) positions” in Kandahar, US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said on Wednesday. in a tweet.
The Taliban “strongly condemned” the US airstrikes on Kandahar, spokesman Qari Mohammad Yusuf Ahmadi saying that members of the Taliban were killed and wounded, but without specifying how many.
Ahmadi called the attacks “a flagrant violation of the Doha Agreement, which cannot be justified in any way.”
The “Doha Agreement”, signed by the United States and the Taliban a little over a year ago in Doha, Qatar, set out a series of commitments from both sides regarding troop numbers, the fight against terrorism and the intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at establishing “a permanent and complete ceasefire.”