Exclusive: US troop reductions in Afghanistan are not necessarily linked to the agreement with the Taliban - Esper

By Phil Stewart LONDON (Reuters) - US Secretary of Defense The US, Mark Esper, said Monday that any withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan is not necessarily related to an agreement with the Taliban insurgents, suggesting that a reduction in force levels could occur regardless of the current peace effort. Esper's statements in an interview with Reuters came immediately after a Thanksgiving trip to Afghanistan last week by President Donald Trump, who spoke of possible troop reductions and said he believed the Taliban insurgency would agree to a halt. The fire in the 18 years. old war If all parties honor it, a ceasefire could lead to a significant reduction in violence. But US military commanders would still focus on the threats associated with two other militant groups in Afghanistan: the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. Esper said the Trump administration had been discussing possible reductions in troop levels for some time, both internally and with US allies. UU. I am sure we could reduce our number in Afghanistan and still make sure that place does not become a safe haven for terrorists who could attack the United States, Esper said, without offering a figure. And our allies agree that we can also make reductions. When asked if such reductions would necessarily depend on some type of agreement with the Taliban insurgency, Esper said: Not necessarily. He did not give more details. There are currently about 13,000 US forces in Afghanistan, as well as thousands of other NATO troops. US officials have said US forces could fall to 8,600 and still carry out an effective and central mission against terrorism, as well as some limited advice for Afghan forces. A draft agreement agreed in September would have withdrawn thousands of US troops in exchange for assurances that Afghanistan would not be used as a basis for militant attacks against the United States or its allies. Still, many US officials privately doubt that the Taliban can be relied on to prevent Al Qaeda from planning attacks against the United States from Afghan soil. (Report by Phil Stewart, edition of Rosalba O'Brien and Cynthia Osterman) This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by timesofindia.com and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)

comments