President Joe Biden said Monday that it will be “tough” to meet a deadline to withdraw the remaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan by a deadline agreed to by the Trump administration.
In an interview with ABC host George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” Biden was asked if the U.S. will keep its commitment to withdraw U.S. troops by May 1. Biden said he is “in the process” of determining when the troops will come home.
“The fact is that that was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the president — the former president — worked out. And so we’re in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision’s going to be — it’s in process now,” Biden said.
Last year, former President Donald Trump negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban to end the 19-year U.S. war in Afghanistan. Trump agreed to pull U.S. forces from the region in exchange for commitments on peace talks.
When the deal was struck, the U.S. had more than 12,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Over the course of last year, President Trump began withdrawing troops. Today, about 2,500 troops were thought to remain in the country, but the New York Times reported on Sunday that there are also 1,000 special operations forces stationed there.
When asked how much longer the troops will stay, Biden said, “I don’t think a lot longer,” adding that the May 1 deadline “could happen, but it is tough.”
The president laid blame for the delay on the previous administration. “The failure to have an orderly transition from the Trump presidency to my presidency … has cost me time and consequences,” he said.
The agreement Trump reached with the Taliban did not include the Afghani government, and U.S. intelligence later reported that the Taliban had “no intention of abiding by their agreement.”
U.S. commanders are opposed to withdrawing now, warning that the Taliban could retake key cities, including the capital, Kabul, should American forces leave the Afghanistan Army to fight alone.
If Biden reneges on the U.S. promise to withdraw, American forces may remain in Afghanistan indefinitely as the U.S. tries to broker a peace agreement between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban.
Acknowledging that the Taliban may not keep their promises, Trump told reporters after announcing the deal that Afghanistan would have to “take care of themselves” and that the United States should not be present there for another 20 years.
“You can only hold somebody’s hand for so long. We have to get back to running our country, too,” Trump said.