Senator Jack Reed said he favored seeking an extension of the May 1 deadline for withdrawing troops that President Donald Trump and the Taliban negotiated last year, The New York Times reported.
Reed said the United States should seek an extension of the deadline to give diplomats more time to negotiate an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“To pull out within several months now is a very challenging and destabilizing effort,” he told reporters on a video conference call organized by George Washington University.
He added his voice to a growing number of national security specialists, including those on a bipartisan, congressionally appointed panel, who argue, in essence, for abandoning the May 1 timetable.
“I would expect some extension,” Reed said, even if that ultimately meant more time for the United States to withdraw the 2,500 troops in the country now.
He also underscored that a top American national security priority should be to prevent terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda and Daesh, from using Afghanistan as a safe haven from which to carry out strikes.
“We’ve got to be able to assure the world and the American public that Afghanistan will not be a source of planning, plotting to project terrorist attacks around the globe,” he said, adding that “that’s the minimum. I’m not sure we can do that without some presence there.”
Early this week, Michael McCaul, a top US Republican, has said in an interview with CNN that President Biden needs to keep US troops in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from taking over.
“I think Afghanistan can be very important. I hope that the Biden administration I can work with them on this and talk to Secretary Blinken and the national security adviser about leaving a residual force there to protect the homeland and not allow the Taliban to take over their country,” the US congressman said.
On Tuesday, the Taliban asked its members to avoid harboring foreign fighters and not allow them to join their ranks.
“All heads and mujahedeen are directed to avoid arbitrary move to bring in foreign nationals into their ranks or harbor them,” the Taliban said in a statement, a copy of which was seen by TOLOnews on Tuesday.
The group warns its fighters that anyone who makes such an attempt will be removed from their assignments, their group will be dissolved, “and will be referred to the military affairs commission for further punishment.”
The Taliban has been under criticism by Afghan and US officials for keeping their ties with terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda. The Taliban has denied its relations with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
“We believe that the top leadership of al-Qaeda is still under Taliban protection,” a UN official, Edmund Fitton-Brown, said earlier this month.
According to the UN monitoring team’s report in January, there are 200 to 500 al-Qaeda fighters across about 11 Afghan provinces.
The Taliban has committed in the Doha agreement to cut their ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The group has also vowed to reduce violence. However, Afghan and US officials have said that violence remains “too high” in the country despite the ongoing efforts for peace.
The Taliban's move comes as the peace negotiators of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban met in Doha after 36 days on Monday evening in which they agreed to continue their meetings on the agenda of the talks.