‘All Options’ on Table for US in Afghanistan
The US government on Sunday pushed back against reports it was planning a full withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan in less than two months, saying that no decision had been made and that “all options remain on the table.” According to several outlets, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently sent a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, warning him that Washington was considering returning all of its 2,500 troops still in Afghanistan back home by May 1. Afghan officials confirmed the reports on Monday. According to the letter, Washington is pushing for the United Nations and foreign diplomats from Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Turkey and Iran to get more involved, and wants to “move matters more fundamentally and quickly toward a settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.” Blinken insisted in his letter that no conclusion or decision regarding troops withdrawal had been made by the State Department. Afghan and Taliban representatives have been conducting largely ineffective peace talks in Qatar over the past year, as a negotiated powersharing settlement of Afghanistan has yet to be reached and unrelenting terror attacks by Taliban forces have hardly let up.