The US president plans to pull out all American forces – numbering 2,500 now – by this September 11, the anniversary of the attacks, which were coordinated from Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden has warned the Taliban he would hold them accountable on Afghanistan after the US exit and pressed nations including Pakistan to play supportive roles.
"We will hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the US or its allies from Afghan soil. The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well," Biden said on Wednesday in a speech announcing an end to America's longest war.
"We will ask other countries in the region to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India and Turkey."
Notably not naming Iran, Biden said that the countries in the region "have a significant stake in the stable future" of Afghanistan.
Pakistan is the historic backer of the Taliban, whose 1996-2001 regime was ousted by a US invasion following the September 11 attacks.
'I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth'
His plan is to pull out all American forces – numbering 2,500 now – by this September 11, the anniversary of the attacks, which were coordinated from Afghanistan.
The US cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results, Biden said.
The drawdown would begin rather than conclude by May 1, which has been the deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year.
We went to Afghanistan because of the horrific attacks on 9/11 that happened 20 years ago.— President Biden (@POTUS) April 14, 2021
That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.
Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges of the future.
No hasty exit
“It is time to end America’s longest war,” Biden said, but he added that the US will “not conduct a hasty rush to the exit."
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said.
“I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
Under an agreement negotiated by former president Donald Trump's administration, the Taliban promised not to give sanctuary to Al Qaeda or other foreign extremists – the original reason for the 2001 invasion.
Biden, while saying the United States has accomplished its mission, saluted the efforts of the Afghan government and promised to maintain support.
"They will continue to fight valiantly on behalf of the Afghans at great cost," Biden said.
NATO to match US troop pullout
Immediately after US announcement, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance has agreed to withdraw its roughly 7,000 non-American forces from Afghanistan to match US decision.
Stoltenberg said the full withdrawal would be completed "within a few months."
There are between 7,000 and 7,500 non-US NATO troops currently in Afghanistan.
"We now have decided to start with withdrawal of all our NATO troops from Afghanistan starting the first of May," Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
"We plan to complete the withdrawal of all our troops within a few months."
"We went into Afghanistan together, we have adjusted our posture together and we are united in leaving together," he said. He added that any attacks on withdrawing NATO forces would draw a firm and forceful response from the alliance.