Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on Feb. 17, 2021.

John Thys/The Associated Press

NATO defence ministers at a meeting on Thursday made no decision on whether or when to pull out of Afghanistan, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that the allies faced a dilemma as violence increases again.

After two decades of Western military intervention and hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, NATO countries are reluctant to heed a May 1 deadline and risk undermining progress toward democracy as a peace process stalls.

“At this stage, we have made no final decision on the future of our presence,” Stoltenberg said after a video conference with allied defence ministers. “As the May 1 deadline is approaching, NATO allies will continue to closely consult and co-ordinate in the coming weeks,” he told a news conference.

Story continues below advertisement

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Wednesday that the Taliban must do more to meet the terms of a 2020 agreement with Washington on the withdrawal of U.S. forces to allow a pullout of the foreign troops.

The Biden administration, in office since Jan. 20, is conducting a review that will determine the status of the 2,500 American troops remaining in Afghanistan, where they now are outnumbered by allied soldiers.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the review in a telephone call on Wednesday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, reiterating U.S. support for the peace process, the State Department said.

Attacks in Afghanistan, including a bomb that killed the deputy governor of the capital Kabul in December, have prompted members of the U.S. Congress and international rights groups to call for a delay to the pullout, agreed when Donald Trump was U.S. president.

“We are faced with many dilemmas, and there are no easy options,” Stoltenberg said.

“If we stay beyond the first of May, we risk more violence, more attacks against our own troops … But if we leave, then we will also risk that the gains that we have made are lost.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised to consult with allies and partners on the way forward, Stoltenberg added.

Story continues below advertisement

A Pentagon statement on Austin’s remarks said that he told allies that the United States was conducting a review of U.S-Taliban deal to see if the conditions were being met.

“He reassured Allies that the U.S. would not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan,” the statement said.

The United States has repeatedly said that the Taliban is not adhering to some conditions of the agreement.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies