President Biden promised key allies in June that the US would keep enough forces in Afghanistan to secure diplomatic outposts in Kabul following the withdrawal of American combat troops, according to a report on Friday.
The memo also indicated US officials were warning their overseas counterparts that the Taliban would “test the Afghan government militarily” before they started giving serious attention to the long-running peace talks with Western-backed leaders in Qatar, the outlet reported.
Meanwhile, Josep Borrell — the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy — was warning his counterpart, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that the American withdrawal risked throwing the military initiative to the Taliban and would threaten European security, the report said.
Meanwhile, the French government said President Emmanuel Macron told Biden Thursday that the US and its NATO allies have a “moral responsibility” to save Afghans who served with Western forces during the two-decade conflict from retribution by the Taliban.
“We cannot abandon them,” read the readout from the Elysee Palace, a phrase that did not appear in the White House readout of the same conversation.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg implored the US Friday to keep forces in Afghanistan beyond the end of this month to assist in the evacuation of as many people as possible from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“The US has stated that the timeline ends on the 31st of August, but several Allies raised during the discussion today, the need to potentially extend that to be able to get more people out,” Stoltenberg said following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
“Our focus is to get, of course, our own staff, people, people working for NATO, for NATO allied countries for partner countries, but also Afghans, and we are working hard to help the Afghans, we have been able to get some out but we, we are working on to get more Afghans out of Afghanistan,” he added.
In remarks from the White House Friday, Biden insisted that “our NATO allies are strongly standing with us” and added that he had seen “no question of our credibility from our allies around the world.”
In fact, he said, “the exact opposite thing” was happening.
“We’re acting with dispatch,” the president argued. “We’re acting — committing to what we said we would do.”