US Discusses Afghanistan Exit Plan With Pakistan; Appreciates Support For Afghan Peace Process – Pentagon

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, on Wednesday in a phone call to discuss the drawdown of US activity in neighboring Afghanistan, a Pentagon press release said.

“During the call, Secretary Austin reaffirmed the importance of the US–Pakistan bilateral relationship and expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan Peace Negotiations.

Secretary Austin and General Bajwa also discussed the drawdown in Afghanistan,” the release read.

On Tuesday, US officials urged American civilians and embassy employees to leave the country as soon as possible, given that a non-aggression agreement between the US and the Taliban is set to expire by May 1.

US President Joe Biden announced earlier this month the decision to withdraw troops from the country starting on that May 1 deadline, with the aim of completely withdrawing from Afghanistan by September 11, which would mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that sparked the war in Afghanistan—the longest conflict in American history.