US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
“We will not allow any single country to take over the sovereignty of others,” said Austin, returning from an Asian tour.
Regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US Secretary of Defense confirmed that “our withdrawal is going on, and we will end our presence as scheduled at the end of next August .”
Regarding Afghan collaborators, Austin noted that “the first batch will be hosted at a military base 90 miles south of Washington, D.C. The second, larger batch is being consulted with our regional allies.”
He added, “The focus will be on counter-terrorism missions after the withdrawal, and on providing support to the government to extend its control over Afghan territory.”
“We are closely monitoring the possibility of al-Qaeda’s return to Afghanistan, and we will provide the necessary capabilities to prevent this if necessary,” he added.
And Austin said that “the Taliban have committed themselves not to provide safe haven for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and we expect their commitment to do so.”
For his part, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said that “military forces should not interfere in internal political affairs categorically,” and noted that “the department maintains its mission and will remain apolitical.”
Milley pointed out that the “Taliban” movement has gained “strategic momentum in its attacks across Afghanistan, but its victory is not at all guaranteed.”
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff added that “the militants now control about half of the approximately 400 Afghan regions, but without controlling any of the country’s main cities, while the Afghan security services are strengthening their forces to protect the residents of the main cities.”
“The Taliban’s military control is not a foregone conclusion,” he said.
Austin had said last June, during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that his department is reviewing the position of US forces in the world . He also warned that “extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda, may pose a threat to the American homeland within two years .”
Milley, in turn, stressed that the Taliban’s attacks would not affect the withdrawal of the US army from Afghanistan.
Source: Al-Mayadeen Net