US Defence Secy meets Ashraf Ghani, says enduring peace is main solution to Afghan conflict

ANI
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin

Kabul [Afghanistan], March 21 (ANI): United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is in Kabul for an unannounced visit, met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday, during which he stressed that enduring and just peace is the main solution for the current situation in Afghanistan.

According to the Afghan Presidential Palace, President Ghani met with Austin and both expressed their concerns over the increase of violence in the country, Tolo News reported.

Austin's trip comes after he paid a visit to India, where he met Indian officials. According to Indian sources, he and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed the Afghan conflict.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, during his visit to India, stated that US President Joe Biden has not made a final decision on the pullout of US troops from Afghanistan yet.

"I'm aware that there is speculation that the President has made a decision on keeping troops there until November. President Joe Biden has not made a decision or made any announcements on when he'll decide to remove the troops," Austin told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday.

Russia on Thursday hosted the international conference on Afghanistan. Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence, and on the Taliban not to launch any offensives in the spring and summer.

Recently, it was reported that the US is reviewing the Doha agreement with the Taliban while also keeping all options on the table when it comes to the May 1st deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Doha agreement was signed in Feburary 2020 between the Taliban and United States with an aim to end the 18-year old conflict in Afghanistan.

The agreement calls for a full US withdrawal from Afghanistan if the terror group upholds counterterrorism commitments such as denying safe haven to al Qaeda.

Quoting two sources, NBC News reported last week that President Joe Biden is considering keeping US troops in Afghanistan until November, rather than withdrawing them by a May 1 deadline outlined in the Doha agreement.

Meanwhile, the Taliban warned the United States on Friday against defying a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, promising a "reaction" though failing to specify exactly what it would be. (ANI)