Kabul (IP) - The U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Kabul on Sunday on his first trip to Afghanistan amid swirling questions about how long American troops would remain in the country.

Iran Press/ Asia: State-owned Radio and Television Afghanistan and TOLO Television reported Austin's arrival in Kabul from India.

He was expected to meet with senior Afghan government officials, including President Ashraf Ghani.

President Joe Biden said last week in an ABC News interview that it would be “tough” for the U.S. to meet a May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. But, he said that if the deadline, laid out in an agreement between former President Donald Trump’s administration and the Taliban, is extended, it will not be by a “lot longer.”

According to US media, former US President Donald Trump agreed with the Taliban last year to pull U.S. troops from the country in exchange for commitments on peace talks and other issues. At that time, there were more than 12,000 troops there, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2011.

The United States has about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than it has disclosed, according to US, European and Afghan officials.

White House officials have repeatedly claimed that the number of US troops in Afghanistan is 2,500, but informed sources revealed that number is actually around 3,500.


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