President Joe Biden said Thursday it would “be hard” to meet the May 1 deadline the United States is committed to for withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan.
“It’s gonna be hard to meet the May 1 deadline, just in terms of tactical reasons it’s hard to get those troops out,” Biden said in response to a question from Ken Thomas from The Wall Street Journal. Former President Donald Trump reached a peace agreement with the Taliban in 2020 to pull out all American forces by May 1, 2021.
3,500 American troops still remain in the country, and the Biden administration has given multiple indications in recent weeks that it will not meet the withdrawal deadline. When Biden ran for president, he said it is “past time to end these forever wars.” (RELATED: Top House Republican: ‘It’s Not Possible’ To Leave Afghanistan By Trump’s May 1 Deadline)
Biden said he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been meeting with NATO allies to determine a safe and orderly way to leave. “We will leave, the question is when we leave,” Biden said.
The president has criticized the deal struck by the Trump administration. He described it as a deal that “looks like it’s not being able to be worked out to begin with.” When asked by Thomas if he envisions American troops still being in the country next year, Biden said, “I can’t picture that being the case.”
Trump reduced troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to the lowest level in decades. Biden’s Pentagon, led by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, has reportedly been open to increasing troop levels in Iraq alongside NATO allies. (RELATED: US Celebrates First Full Year Without Combat Death In Afghanistan)
The Taliban has violated the Trump agreement on multiple occasions, although the May 1 deadline still remains in place. Experts worry that a full withdrawal of American forces will result in the militant group overrunning an unprepared Afghan security apparatus.