The United States is pursuing basing options with Afghanistan’s neighbors including Pakistan after US troops withdraw from that country but there is nothing to announce at present, a Defense Department spokesperson told Sputnik.
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US media reported on Sunday that Biden administration officials are in discussions with Pakistani officials to secure bases close to Afghanistan for future operations.
The CIA had used a base in Pakistan to execute drone strikes against militants but was expelled out of the facility in 2011 as bilateral relations soured.
“While we have no basing agreements to announce, we know that Afghanistan’s neighbors share our desire to counter the scourge of global terrorism,” the Defense Department spokesperson said on Monday.
The United States will continue to pursue options with partners and allies in the region, the spokesperson said.
The Defense Department is evaluating new basing options together with the State Department and the US intelligence community, the spokesperson added.
Earlier, the Taliban had warned ‘neighboring nations’ which mainly included Pakistan and Central Asian nations against providing space to the US to create military bases in the region.
The official response came following media reports that the United States may stay in the region after withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, which is expected to be done by September, and open military bases in neighboring countries to monitor and control the situation.
“We urge neighboring countries not to allow anyone to do so,” the Taliban said, stressing that foreign forces became the root cause of the conflict in the region and the suffering of its people.
The Islamist group called such a step a mistake and warned about consequences, saying it will not “remain silent before such heinous and provocative acts.”
Meanwhile, the US has completed roughly half of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, putting it on track to meet the September withdrawal deadline, US Central Command (CENTCOM) head Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said on Monday.
“We are continuing to execute a safe and deliberate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan at the direction of our President and in concert with our NATO allies and partners. We’ve completed about half of the entire retrograde process, and we will meet the September deadline to complete the full withdrawal from Afghanistan,” McKenzie said.
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McKenzie added that the US does plan to maintain an embassy in Afghanistan, at the invitation of the Afghan government, but it is up to local forces to maintain peace in the area. He noted that much of the US’s current role in the region is as an advisor to local security in addition to conducting counterterrorism operations.
Although US forces were originally supposed to have exited the country by May of this year, officials struck a deal to extend the withdrawal deadline to September 11th, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.