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NATO to discuss deadline for full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

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NATO to discuss deadline for full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
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NATO defence ministers are today expected to discuss a May 1 deadline to fully withdraw the alliance's troops from Afghanistan, according to the alliance's

The deadline was set out last year in a peace deal between the Trump administration and Taliban leadership.

But Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance's secretary-general, told reporters there will be no full withdrawal "before the time is right".

"Our common goal is clear. Afghanistan should never again serve as a haven for terrorists to attack our homelands," Stoltenberg said.

"So, our presence is conditions-based. While no ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right.

"So, ministers will continue to assess the situation on the ground and monitor developments very closely.”

The topic looks set to dominate the already full agenda during a virtual summit on Wednesday and Thursday, where ministers will also address NATO's mission in Iraq, its 2030 initiative and an ongoing review of progress toward fairer burden-sharing between members.

But with the May 1 deadline looking likely to be axed, the new Biden administration's plans for Afghanistan are still unclear.

"All options are being considered, but there have been no decisions right now," Douglas Jones, acting US Ambassador to NATO told Euronews.

"We are committed, and I think all allies are, to the diplomatic process that's going forward right now. We recognise that the ongoing diplomatic process is the best chance to come to a lasting and endurable solution in Afghanistan and all allies are supporting that."