US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during an unexpected visit to Kabul. According to media reports, the US Secretary of Defense’s visit came at a time when the United States was one week away from the date of the agreement on the withdrawal of US troops.
Lloyd Austin said on social networking site Twitter that he had come to “listen and learn” on his first trip to Afghanistan (about the situation) since his appointment. “This visit has been very fruitful for me and I will be aware of my participation in the review of the (Afghan peace process),” he added. After talks with President Ghani, he did not comment on the May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US troops.
“It’s my boss’s (Joe Biden) job,” he told reporters. “This is the decision that the president (Joe Biden) will make at some point,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The US Secretary of Defense and his delegation arrived in Afghanistan on a “second plane” instead of a military plane, and the visit to Afghanistan was kept top secret due to security concerns.
According to the Washington Post, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that senior US officials want to carry out the withdrawal (US troops) responsibly. “There are always concerns about things in one way or another, but I think there is a lot of energy focused on doing what is necessary to carry out the war responsibly and to reach a negotiated settlement,” he said.
Both sides condemned the escalation of violence in Afghanistan, according to a statement issued by the presidential palace in Kabul. However, the statement did not mention the May 1 deadline.