Trump: the American contingent in Afghanistan will very soon be reduced to 4,000 people
Trump wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas
Meanwhile, the Taliban say their negotiator discussed the Afghan peace process with Pompeo.
US President Donald Trump said that by November this year, the American contingent in Afghanistan will be reduced to four to five thousand people. Meanwhile, the Taliban say their chief negotiator on Monday discussed the state of the Afghan peace process with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo..
“It’s already been planned. In a very short time, we will reduce the presence to 8,000 (soldiers), then to 4,000. We are negotiating right now. We’ve been there for 19 years, ”Trump said on HBO’s documentary Axios. The President declined to specify the exact date for the withdrawal of troops, but said it would happen “very soon”.
Asked how many American troops will remain in Afghanistan by November 3 US election day, Trump said, “Probably between four and five thousand.”.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, the US President also stressed: “We will leave Afghanistan pretty soon.” The United States began a gradual withdrawal soon after the Trump administration negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban in February..
Since then, the United States has reduced its contingent from 13,000 to 8,600 and has left five Afghan military bases. The agreement required all US and Allied forces to leave Afghanistan by July 2021 in exchange for guarantees that the Taliban would not allow the country to become a safe haven for transnational terrorists. US officials say the deal also obliges the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement with rival Afghan factions to end decades of hostilities in the country..
However, the issue of the exchange of prisoners became an obstacle on the way to intra-Afghan negotiations. Under an agreement between the US and the Taliban, Kabul was to free up to 5,000 Taliban in exchange for 1,000 government soldiers. The Taliban released about 1,000 and the Afghan government about 4,600. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani refuses to release the remaining 400 from the Taliban’s list, claiming that they are complicit in serious crimes and that the constitution does not allow him to release them. Ghani plans to hold a council of elders to discuss the release of the remaining suspects on the list. Council is expected to take place later this month.
On Monday, Taliban spokesman in Doha Suheil Shahin said that Secretary of State Pompeo held a videoconference with Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who stressed that “the release of the remaining prisoners is essential for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.”.
Shahin said Pompeo welcomed the Taliban’s announcement of a three-day ceasefire on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Afghan authorities say Taliban attacks continued during the holiday and more than 20 civilians were killed. Taliban denies these accusations.
The State Department has not yet commented on the talks.