BERLIN (AP) — Discussions are underway among military planners with the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Kabul for a possible withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan as early as July 4, Germany’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
If agreed, the date would move up by more than two months the timeline to bring international troops home.
“The Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul are currently considering whether to shorten the withdrawal period,” Defense Ministry spokesman David Helmbold told reporters in Berlin. “The 4th of July is now being considered as a pullout date. The ministry informed the (German parliament’s) defense committee about this today.”
NATO agreed earlier this month to withdraw its roughly 7,000 non-American forces from Afghanistan to match U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all American troops from the country starting on May 1.
Biden has said he wants the process completed by Sept. 11, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has only said the withdrawal was expected to be done “within a few months.”
Germany, which currently has a little more than 1,000 troops participating in the mission there, so far has said it hopes to complete its part of the withdrawal by mid-August.
Asked later Wednesday what the reasoning for mulling an earlier departure is, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said it “lies particularly in the idea that the shorter the stay in Afghanistan now, the smaller the danger from the Taliban may be.”
The Defense Ministry wouldn’t comment on which country brought up the idea of a full withdrawal by July 4.
Kramp-Karrenbauer said that “whether that in the end will really be the date set for the withdrawal is a decision NATO has to make.”
Helmbold, the Defense Ministry spokesman, said that “the nations involved are now examining what challenges that would entail and what the consequences would be.”