Trump extols peace negotiations with Taliban, pledges troop drawdown


KABUL: Praising the Taliban as ‘tough’ and ‘smart’, the US President Donald Trump has promised to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan to less than 4,000 in the next couple of weeks.

“Very shortly, we’ll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers.  And so we’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen,” the US leader told a news conference at the White House on Friday.  

 “We’re having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard,” Trump said of the ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban in Doha.

In a read-out of the news briefing, he made clear certain things had to be done before the planned drawdown.  Without giving a specific date for decreasing troop levels, he dubbed the 19 years of war in Afghanistan a long time.

“They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp, but you know it’s been 19 years and even they are tired of fighting, in all fairness,” Trump maintained in the statement.

This comes as the president wants to end America’s longest war as he’s eyeing to be re-elected in the upcoming November’s presidential polls.

The direct intra-Afghan talks between the negotiating teams of the Taliban and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) were launched through an opening ceremony last week. Inching closer to more serious discussions, the negotiating teams of the IRA and the Taliban have reportedly settled some contradictory items related to procedures and internal code of conduct but other related issues are yet to be resolved.

On the other hand, H.R. McMaster, former US national security adviser, has recently accused President Trump of partnering with the Taliban ahead of this month’s peace negotiations in Doha but insisted on the continued support of Washington to the Afghan government.   

According to him, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and partnering with the Taliban had made the United States less safe.