Secretary of State Antony Blinken has defended the U.S. decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, saying terrorism threats have moved elsewhere and that Washington needs to focus its “energy and resources” on other important issues, such the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
"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 told ABC's This Week on April 18.
President Joe Biden announced on April 14 that the United States would withdraw all remaining U.S. forces from Afghanistan before September 11.
The withdrawal comes despite a deadlock in peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban militant group.
Meanwhile, national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said on April 18 that the United States would stay focused on terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan. But he stressed that no one can “make any guarantees about what will happen inside” Afghanistan after international troops leave the country.
"All the United States could do is provide the Afghan security forces, the Afghan government and the Afghan people resources and capabilities, training and equipping their forces, providing assistance to their government. We have done that and now it is time for American troops to come home and the Afghan people to step up to defend their own country,” Sullivan told Fox News Sunday program.
Opponents of a U.S. military exit this year have argued that the move could plunge Afghanistan deeper into violence and leave the United States more vulnerable to terrorist threats.
The United States currently has around 2,500 troops in Afghanistan from a high of over 100,000. Thousands more serve as part of a 9,600-strong NATO force, which will withdraw at the same time.