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US Defense Secretary Urges ‘Path Towards Peace’ as Taliban Peace Pact Deadline Looms

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in order for the United States to withdraw all troops from war-torn Afghanistan before the May deadline will depend on the Taliban’s reduction of violence. “We are mindful of the looming deadlines, but we want to do this methodically and deliberately, and I certainly won’t get ahead of any decisions,” Austin said at a Pentagon press briefing on Friday. “Clearly the violence is too high right now and more progress needs to be made in the Afghan-led negotiations,” he continued. “So, I urge all parties to choose the path towards peace. The violence must decrease now.” Thousands of U.S. troops have already been ordered to leave the ongoing war in Afghanistan over the past year under a four-component peace pact between the United States and the Taliban (pdf), signed in February 2020, which included a Trump administration commitment to the Taliban to remove all U.S. military, intelligence, and …

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