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NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan: US Secretary of State Blinken

NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan: US Secretary of State Blinken

High on the agenda for NATO during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Brussels is the future of the alliance's mission in Afghanistan. (File photo: AFP/JOHANNES EISELE)

BRUSSELS: A coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned US withdrawal by Sep 11, Washington's top diplomat said on Wednesday (Apr 14), ahead of a formal announcement of the end of two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-US forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan but still rely on US air support, planning and leadership for their training mission.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels that it was time for NATO allies to make good on its mantra that allies went into Afghanistan together and would leave together.

"I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together," Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.

"We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan," Blinken said, standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,

READ: Biden to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Sep 11

READ: NATO and Moscow spar over Russian build-up around Ukraine

NATO foreign and defence ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference.

A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose US President Joe Biden's formal announcement, expected later on Wednesday, for a complete US withdrawal of troops by Sep 11.

Source: Reuters/jt

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