US President Donald Trump has ordered US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan by the 2020 election, said Mr Pompeo on Monday. Responding to a question at an event at the Economic Club of Washington whether the United States could withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan before the next presidential election, Mr. Pompeo answered: “That’s my directive from the president of the United States. He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars. Draw down. Reduce.”
Speaking at a fireside chat at the club, the top US diplomat said that Washington had a simple message for all Afghans: “We want them to take their country back.” Mr. Pompeo also suggested that a troop withdrawal is connected to how President Trump assesses his job performance. “It’s not only my expectation, it would be job-enhancing,” he said.
The secretary said the withdrawal did not concern the United States alone as “countries from all across Europe and around the world” had sent troops to Afghanistan. “We hope that overall the need for combat forces in the region is reduced,” he added.
“Yeah, real progress. I try not to do timelines, but I’m optimistic,” said Mr Pompeo when asked if he saw any progress in reducing the need for the United States to be in Afghanistan.
“We’re not just negotiating with the Taliban. That’s the story. The truth of the matter is we’re talking to all Afghans,” he said. “President Ghani, I spoke to him on Friday morning. I’m speaking with the opposition … we’re speaking with Taliban officials.”
Mr. Trump who, according to The Washington Post, has often “privately and publicly expressed frustration” with America’s longest war also aired this frustration at his joint news conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan on July 22. Hoping that “Pakistan is going to help us out to extricate ourselves” from this war, he said: “We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting the war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.”
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17 November, 2019