Trump 'to announce withdrawal of over 4,000 troops from Afghanistan soon'
NEW YORK – United States President Donald Trump intends to withdraw about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan and will make the official announcement in the next coming days, a leading American television network reported on Saturday.
Three current and former US officials told National Broadcasting Company (NBC) News the president is planning to announce the immediate withdrawal that will see a massive reduction in the current number of troops in the region, which are now between 12,000 and 13,000.
The news could come as early as next week and follows renewed peace talks with Taliban.
It’s unclear when the withdrawal would begin, but officials told the network that it would take place over a couple of months.
In Islamabad on Friday, United States Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad briefed Pakistani leaders on last week’s first official talks with the Taliban in Qatar since President Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the Taliban dead in September.
Khalilzad met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who assured the American envoy that Islamabad will continue to press for a durable peace in neighbouring Afghanistan. According to media reports, Khalilzad praised Pakistan’s role in facilitating the ongoing peace process.
In August, President Trump said, “We’re going down to 8,600 and then we make a determination from there as to what happens. We’re bringing it down.”
Trump has been consistently critical of United States military presence in Afghanistan and has vowed to end the war that has gone on for more than 18 years. Despite his vow to remove all United States troops in the country, however, Trump approved an increase of troops in 2017.
The Taliban has also indicated it would agree to a ceasefire. Defense officials told CNN that the remaining US military presence in the country will be focused on counter-terrorism.
A recent report of the efficacy of the war in Afghanistan has also cast doubt on the legitimacy of the troops remaining.
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