The US will not meet the May 1 deadline agreed upon by the Trump administration and the Taliban, sources say.
United States President Joe Biden will leave US troops in Afghanistan past the current May 1 deadline but will withdraw them by September 11, sources tell the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies.
The new withdrawal date is the 20th anniversary of al-Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, which triggered the war in Afghanistan. The Washington Post and New York Times have also reported on Biden’s modified withdrawal date.
Biden has been signaling that he would likely miss the May 1 deadline negotiated by the Donald Trump administration and the Taliban as it became clear that withdrawing the remaining 2,500 troops would be difficult and potentially unsafe.
US officials have also blamed the Taliban for failing to live up to commitments to reduce violence and some have warned about persistent Taliban links to al-Qaeda.
In a statement last month, the Taliban threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops in Afghanistan if they did not meet the May 1 deadline.
But it would still set a near-term date with withdrawal, potentially allaying Taliban concerns that Biden would drag out the process.
The ultimate withdrawal would be based on certain security and human rights guarantees, the sources told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the formalization of the decision. The sources did not provide further details.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to brief the decision to NATO allies in Brussels on Wednesday. Biden may also publicly announce his decision, the sources said.
Turkey announced on Tuesday it would host an Afghan meeting from April 24 to May 4 to jumpstart efforts to end the war and put together a possible political settlement.
The United Nations and Qatar are included in the event, and Turkey’s foreign ministry said the Afghan government and the Taliban will attend, but the Taliban said they had not committed to those dates.
On Monday the Taliban pulled out of an April 16 conference that was to have been held in Istanbul.