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Blinken, Austin brief NATO on Afghan troop withdrawal plan

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“Together, we went into Afghanistan to deal with those who attacked us and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who might attack any of us,” Blinken said. “And together, we have achieved the goals that we we set out to achieve. And now it is time to bring our forces home.”

Blinken noted the mantra that has guided NATO’s Resolute Support mission has been “in together, adapt together, and out together.”

“We will work very closely together in the weeks and months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” he said.

Stoltenberg said that the meetings would be focused on “our future presence in Afghanistan” and that the alliance, which makes decisions on the basis of consensus, could be expected to make those plans known in the near future.

Even before the group meetings began, it appeared that consensus on withdrawal was at hand. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said NATO members were likely to decide to join the U.S. in pulling out their troops by Sept. 11.

“We have always said: We go in together, we go out together,” she told Germany’s ARD television. “I am in favor of an orderly withdrawal.”

Germany, which currently has some 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, has always said that it would no longer be able to maintain a presence there if the U.S. were to leave.

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