The US has 3,500 troops in Afghanistan at the moment, which is 1,000 more than officially declared figure of 2,500, according to a report by The New York Times on Sunday.
Washington has to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by May 1, in line with a deal between the Taliban and former US President Donald Trump’s administration signed in February last year.
Although the additional 1,000 is a small number compared to around 100,000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan at the peak of the war, it complicates the deal for the White House, as some in Washington are against the withdrawal.
Some US lawmakers in Congress repeatedly called for an increase in the number of troops if the US would decide to stay in Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal date.
While Taliban want all US troops out of the country, the Afghan government’s security forces rely on American air support.
In a bid to accelerate the stalled peace process, a meeting between the Afghan government representatives and the Taliban would be arranged in Turkey, according to a letter last week, leaked by Afghan media outlet TOLO.
The letter was sent by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“We will ask the government of Turkey to host a senior-level meeting of both sides in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement. I [Blinken] urge you [Ghani] or your authoritative designates to join other representatives of the Islamic Republic [of Afghanistan] in this meeting,” the letter said.
Blinken said Washington has also intended to ask the UN to convene foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and the US to discuss how to promote peace in Afghanistan.
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