Boris Johnson Says U.K. Isn't 'Walking Away' From Afghanistan as Troops Pull Out

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday the U.K. isn't "walking away" from Afghanistan as its troops return from their deployment there, the Associated Press reported.

"We are keeping our embassy in Kabul, and we will continue to work with our friends and allies, particularly our friends in Pakistan, to work towards a settlement," Johnson said.

He said it would take many nations to help the Afghan people "build their future," but as the threat that brought the troops there has diminished, they will be pulling out.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

U.K. Will Not Abandon Afghanistan
U.K. Prime Minister Johnson said Thursday the U.K. will continue to support Afghanistan through diplomacy as its troops return from deployment there. Above, Johnson visits energy company Bulb on Thursday in London. Jeremy Selwyn/Getty Images

Johnson stressed that the threat posed by Al-Qaeda to the U.K. has substantially diminished, but he sidestepped questions about whether the hasty military exodus by the country and its NATO allies risks undoing the work of nearly two decades or leaves Afghanistan vulnerable to the Taliban, which has made rapid advances in many northern districts.

The prime minister declined to give details about the troop withdrawal, citing security reasons. But he said that "all British troops assigned to NATO's mission in Afghanistan are now returning home," adding that "most of our personnel have already left."

He stressed that Britain remains committed to helping achieve a peace settlement in Afghanistan through diplomacy.

A total of 457 British service members died in Afghanistan during the U.K.'s deployment, a much higher death rate compared with the U.K.'s involvement in Iraq. Britain's last combat troops left Afghanistan in October 2014, though about 700 remained in Afghanistan as part of a NATO mission to train Afghan forces.

Britain's Defense Ministry has said the withdrawal of the last troops would be "complete within a few months."

The U.S. military announced Tuesday that 90 percent of American troops and equipment had already left the country, with the drawdown set to finish by late August. Last week, U.S. officials vacated the country's biggest airfield, Bagram Air Base, the epicenter of the war to oust the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on America.

Most European troops have also quietly pulled out in recent weeks.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said the U.K. had been put in a "very difficult position" to continue the mission once the U.S. announced its decision to leave.

U.K. Won't Abandon Afghanistan
Boys travel on a donkey on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif province in Afghanistan on Thursday. Rahmat Gul/Associated Press