Talks underway over early Afghanistan withdrawal, says Germany

German military planners are in discussions with the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Kabul for a possible withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan as early as July 4.

If agreed, it would bring the current date by which to bring international troops home forward by two months.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin on Wednesday, defence ministry spokesman David Helmbold said: “The Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul is currently considering whether to shorten the withdrawal period.”

“The 4th of July is now being considered as a pullout date. The ministry informed the [German parliament’s] defence committee about this today. The nations involved are now examining what challenges that would entail and what the consequences would be”.

Germany currently has a little over 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, and has previously said it plans to complete its part of the withdrawal by mid-August.

The defence ministry would not comment on which country brought up the idea of a full withdrawal by July 4.

Withdrawal sparks fears for Afghans who supported NATO mission

Earlier this month NATO agreed to withdraw its roughly 7,000 non-American forces from Afghanistan starting on May 1, following a decision by US President Joe Biden to begin pulling all American troops from the country from this date.

Biden has said he wants the process completed by September 11. So far, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has only said its withdrawal process was expected to conclude “within a few months.”

On Sunday, German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also told the German news agency DPA that she wants her country to offer residency to Afghan nationals who helped the German military during the war.

The remarks came amid concerns that with the withdrawal of US and NATO troops, Afghans who collaborated with foreign forces could be left in danger.

“We are talking about people here [who] have worked alongside us, even at the risk of their own safety, for years in some cases,” she was quoted as saying.

“I feel it is a deep obligation of the Federal Republic of Germany not to leave these people behind without protection now that we are finally leaving the country.”

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