Trump says remaining troops should be home from Afghanistan by Christmas

Sunday, 11 Oct, 2020

Less than a month before the election, US President Donald Trump's abrupt vow to bring home troops from Afghanistan by year-end is a sign of how he may feel increasingly unchained to push through a foreign policy "wish list" he hopes could appeal to voters, current and former officials say. Stoltenberg insisted that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members will consult with each other and decide together when to leave Afghanistan.

"I'd like to make clear that the secretary has not issued orders to reduce military personnel below this 4,000 to 5,000 level in Afghanistan, although we are conducting prudent planning to withdraw to zero service members by May 2021 if conditions warrant, per the U.S. -Taliban agreement", Helvey testified.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation, and General Austin Scott Miller, commander of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, on Thursday called on Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ. As you know that U.S. troops are the main part of it.

The Trump campaign responded to the Taliban endorsement of his re-election bid in a Saturday statement saying the president will always protect American interests "by any means necessary".

In an interview with Fox Business on Thursday, Trump said, "19 years is enough".

The president has repeatedly promised to end America's "endless wars" and has touted his administration's moves to bring home hundreds of USA service members from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and even Germany.

Stoltenberg, however, said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would only leave Afghanistan when it could do so without the risk of the country once again becoming a haven for militants.

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on Wednesday that the pace of the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan could leave as few as 2,500 troops in the Central Asian country by early 2021.

The Taliban welcomed the announcement as a "positive step" in implementing their February 29 agreement with the US.

A spokesman for the group, Mohammad Naeem, described Trump's announcement as "a positive step towards the implementation of [the] Doha agreement".

Earlier in the day, White House national security adviser Robert C. O'Brien said the force would be reduced to around 2,500 early next year. Washington had an estimated 13,000 troops in Afghanistan when it signed the agreement with the Taliban on February 29.

"India also espouses for a peaceful Afghanistan which is in peace within the country and a democratic Afghanistan which does not harbour terrorist groups", Abdullah said.

Following the agreement with the United States, the Taliban also entered into talks with the Afghan government.

Both countries would "agree that their territory will not be allowed to be used against the other by extremist groups or groups that would undermine the security of the other", he said. The Taliban, he said, are "committed to the contents of the agreement and hope for good and positive relations with all countries, including the US, in the future".

In return, the Taliban promised not to allow Afghanistan to be used by trans-national extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda - the original reason for the 2001 United States invasion.

Director general of the Iran Drug Control Headquarters, Eskandar Momeni, said American planes as well as those belonging to the US-led military alliance and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are engaged in transporting illicit drugs.