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Biden Sets a Noteworthy Date for Afghan Withdrawal

Troops to be out by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of attacks
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2021 12:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is this September, and President Biden has decided US troops will be out of Afghanistan by then. Biden plans to make the announcement Wednesday, the Washington Post reports. President George W. Bush launched the invasion after the 9/11 attacks, and President Trump signed a deal with the Taliban last year calling for the US to be out by this May 1. About 3,500 American troops remain in Afghanistan, some of whom are on brief deployments, and the latest plan calls for all to be gradually pulled out between now and September. Other countries have about 7,000 coalition troops there, mostly NATO forces. The administration has been reviewing the nation's Afghanistan policy for the past three months, per NBC, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin went to Kabul last month for talks about the withdrawal.

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"This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered," a US official said. "If we break the May 1 deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban." In addition, Afghanistan has slipped on the list of priorities as other nations have become more aggressive toward the US. While stressing that the administration remains committed to helping its government, the official said, "Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point." One official said the national security threat involving Afghanistan can be handled "without a persistent military footprint" and "without being at war with the Taliban." Humanitarian aid will continue, as will aid to Afghanistan's security forces. A US military presence will remain, to deal with terrorism threats and ensure the Taliban keeps its agreements. (Read more Afghanistan exit strategy stories.)

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