US defense chief Lloyd Austin arrives in Kabul on 1st trip to Afghanistan

US defense chief Lloyd Austin arrives in Kabul on 1st trip to Afghanistan
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Sunday on his first trip to the country as Pentagon chief, amid swirling questions about how long American soldiers will remain in the country.

Afghanistan’s popular TOLO Television and State-owned Radio and Television Afghanistan reported the US defence chief’s arrival in Kabul from India. He was expected to meet with senior officials of Afghan government, including President Ashraf Ghani.

Last week, US President Joe Biden said in an ABC News interview that it will be “tough” for his country to meet a May 1 deadline to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. But president Biden said that if the deadline, which is laid out in an agreement between Donald Trump’s administration and the Taliban, is extended, it would not be by a “lot longer.”

The Taliban in response on Friday warned of consequences if the United States does not meet the deadline. Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban negotiation team, told reporters that if the US soldiers stay beyond May 1, “it will be a kind of violation of the agreement. That violation would not be from our side. … Their violation will have a reaction.”

Lloyd Austin was expected to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the newly appointed defense chief Army Chief of Staff Gen. Yasin Zia.

Washington is reviewing the agreement the former Donald Trump administration signed with the Taliban last year.

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