Washington: The US President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke about his renewed desire for a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan at a White House news conference, Tolo News reported.
However, Trump added that he had not set a target date, amid speculation he might make ending America’s longest war part of his re-election campaign.
“We’re there 19 years and, yeah, I think that’s enough… We can always go back if we want to,” said Trump.
Trump further said, “Well, I think everyone knows we’re down to less than 8,000 troops. We’re with leadership in many different fields and in many different parts of that country. We’re dealing with the Taliban, we’re dealing with the president. The president now has gotten himself straightened out with the two presidents, but we’re dealing with – because they had, as you know, they had competing factors and factions.”
In the meantime, senior US military commanders have been discussing options for significantly reducing the US troop presence in Afghanistan earlier than planned, according to several defense officials.
The closely held discussions were sparked in part by worries that President Donald Trump may want to withdraw troops before voters go to the polls in November in order to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise to bring troops home, the officials said.
Trump has said he would like to pull US soldiers out of Afghanistan ahead of the timeline set out in a February agreement with the Taliban — a prospect that raises concerns within the Pentagon about troop safety and the possibility it could spark renewed violence in the country.
It is not clear if Trump has asked for a full withdrawal or would agree to let some number of troops stay, but military leaders could present Trump with options for a decision within days, according to CNN report.
The US has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan at present.