- "We have always said, if the Americans stay, we will also stay," Merkel said
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that the United States had decided to withdraw from Afghanistan partly because of domestic political reasons, sources in her party told AFP.
At a meeting with her CDU-CSU party leadership, Merkel said NATO's decision to pull out after almost two decades of deployment was "ultimately made by the Americans", and that "domestic political reasons" were partly to blame.
"We have always said, if the Americans stay, we will also stay," she said, according to participants at the meeting.
"The troop withdrawal sparked a domino effect" that culminated in the Taliban sweeping back into power, said Merkel.
"For the many who have built on the progress and freedom -- especially women -- these are bitter events," she said.
Efforts must now be focused on evacuating German nationals as well as Afghans who had worked with the Germans or who are in danger from the Taliban, she said.
Berlin estimates that 2,500 local employees who worked with German troops or at the embassy, as well as their family members, need to be evacuated from the country.
Another 2,000 Afghans, such as human rights activists or employees of non-governmental organisations, also need to be brought out of the country. The number swells to 10,000 if their family members are included.
Beyond these groups, many others will seek to leave Afghanistan, said Merkel.
"We must do everything we can to help neighbouring countries to support the refugees," she said, according to the sources.