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Trump Talks of Limiting U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Aug. 19, 2019 (EIRNS)—Speaking to journalists on Aug. 18 about the situation in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump described ongoing talks by U.S. representatives with the Taliban as “very good”; but also appeared to limit the scope of American troop withdrawals.

“We’re having very good discussions with the Taliban,” the President said.

“We’re having very good discussions with the Afghan government.... We’ve really got [troops] down to probably 13,000 people and we’ll be bringing it down a little bit more, and then we’ll decide whether or not we’ll be staying longer or not.... We have things under control very well with the small force. We can probably make it a little bit smaller and then we’ll decide.... It’ll depend on the Taliban, it’ll depend on the Afghan government,”

Trump said. “I think it’s very important that we continue intelligence there in all cases, because it is somewhat of a nest for hitting us.”

Descriptions several weeks ago by U.S. representative Zalmay Khalilzad’s team, which suggested an almost imminent U.S.-Taliban deal and beginning of American withdrawal, may have influenced India’s Aug. 5 decision to alter the state status of the India-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir to two federally administered territories. And in turn, India’s action has led to statements by Pakistani officials attempting to “link” Kashmir to peace negotiations in Afghanistan, to the dismay of Kabul’s President Ashraf Ghani government. So it may have struck President Trump—who has been consulted by both India and Pakistan since the move in Jammu and Kashmir—that a pause in U.S. troop withdrawal plans would be wise.

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