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‘Terror menace has moved from Afghanistan’: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

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Antony J. Blinken, of New York, speaks throughout his affirmation listening to to be Secretary of State earlier than the U.S. Senate International Relations Committee on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 19, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool through REUTERS
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the specter of terror has “moved elsewhere” from Afghanistan.
  • Says Washington must refocus sources on challenges reminiscent of China and the pandemic.
  • President Joe Biden introduced final week that america would withdraw all forces from the nation earlier than September 11.

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday defended the US resolution to withdraw from Afghanistan, saying the fear menace had moved elsewhere and that Washington wanted to refocus sources on challenges reminiscent of China and the pandemic.

President Joe Biden introduced final week that america would withdraw all forces from the nation earlier than this 12 months´s twentieth anniversary of the September 11 assaults.

The unconditional withdrawal — 4 months later than a deadline agreed with the Taliban final 12 months — comes regardless of a impasse in peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan authorities.

CIA head William Burns and US generals together with the previous armed forces chief David Petraeus have argued that the transfer might plunge the nation deeper into violence and depart America extra susceptible to terrorist threats.

“The terrorism threat has moved to other places. And we have other very important items on our agenda, including the relationship with China, including dealing with everything from climate change to Covid,” Blinken advised ABC´s “This Week.”

“And that´s where we have to focus our energy and resources.”

Blinken met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in addition to senior US officers in Kabul final week and briefed them on Biden´s announcement Wednesday that he was ending “the forever war,” which started in response to the 2001 September 11 assaults.

Blinken advised ABC america had “achieved the objectives that we set out to achieve.”

“Al-Qaeda has been significantly degraded. Its capacity to conduct an attack against the United States now from Afghanistan is not there,” he mentioned.

The Pentagon has round 2,500 troops in Afghanistan from a excessive of over 100,000. Hundreds extra function a part of a 9,600-strong NATO pressure, which can withdraw on the similar time.

The delay in withdrawal — even by simply over 4 months — has angered the Taliban, who’ve threatened to renew hostilities in opposition to US forces.

Blinken mentioned, nevertheless, that Washington would be capable of see any transfer by the Taliban “in real time” and take motion.

“So if they start something up again, they´re going to be in a long war that´s not in their interest either,” Blinken mentioned.

Nationwide Safety Advisor Jake Sullivan mentioned america would search to maintain a diplomatic presence with “a security component” after the withdrawal.

“Our intelligence community made clear this week in public testimony that we will have months of warning before Al-Qaeda or (the Islamic State group) could have an external plotting capability from Afghanistan,” Sullivan advised “Fox News Sunday.”

“So we are not going to take our eye off the ball.”

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