President Biden to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, extending Trump's May 1 deadline

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first news conference as Pentagon chief, said Friday that progress toward peace in Afghanistan and an end to U.S. military involvement there depends on the Taliban reducing attacks. (Feb. 19) AP Domestic

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to pull all military forces out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending U.S. presence in the Middle Eastern nation by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that spurred America’s longest war.

The move will extend military presence in Afghanistan beyond the May 1 withdrawal date previously negotiated by former President Donald Trump.

Biden sees “no military solution” for the problems in Afghanistan, a senior administration official said. The U.S. will instead focus efforts on putting the “full weight” of the U.S. government behind diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Taliban and Afghan government, according to the official.

“But what we will not do is use our troops as bargaining chips in that process,” said the official, who agreed to discuss the plans Tuesday on the condition of anonymity. 

Biden will formally announce the withdrawal in a White House speech Wednesday detailing “the way forward in Afghanistan,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.

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More: Biden faces Trump’s deadline on Afghanistan troop withdrawal: ‘Any way you cut it, we are headed for a messy outcome’

The drawdown in forces will begin before May 1 in coordination with NATO allies that are also withdrawing troops. The Biden administration warned the Taliban that any attacks on the U.S. during the withdrawal will be met with a forceful response, the White House said.

Biden consulted with his Cabinet, members of Congress, the Afghan government, NATO allies and other partners before making the decision, according to the official.

Biden had faced increasing pressure on whether to stick to Trump’s May 1 deadline to fully withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. 

Some of Biden’s key allies in Congress warned a complete U.S. withdrawal would thrust Afghanistan further into chaos and violence. Others said keeping U.S. troops on the ground any longer could spark a backlash among progressives who want to see an end to America’s longest war.  

Last month, the president said that even if the U.S. did not meet the May 1 deadline, U.S. troops would not be in Afghanistan for much longer.  

More: I lost both my legs fighting in Afghanistan. Staying there doesn’t honor our troops.

The May 1 timetable was part of an agreement the Trump administration forged with the Taliban in February 2020. Under that deal, the U.S. agreed to withdraw all its forces; in exchange, the Taliban promised to sever its ties with al-Qaeda and end its attacks on American forces. The Trump administration began a drawdown of U.S. forces, and about 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan now.

Like Trump, Biden campaigned on a promise to end America’s “forever wars.” The conflict in Afghanistan has cost more than $2 trillion and more than 2,300 American lives. More than 38,000 Afghan civilians have been killed.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @Joeygarrison.

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen

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