Trump says U.S. role in Afghanistan has turned into 'ridiculous' police force
By Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the U.S. military role in Afghanistan has basically turned into a 'ridiculous' police force in a sign that he is open to a U.S
By Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the U.S. military role in Afghanistan has basically turned into a "ridiculous" police force in a sign that he is open to a U.S. troop drawdown there after 18 years of war.
Trump was briefed on Friday by top national security aides on a peace plan being negotiated by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad with leaders of the Afghanistan government and the Taliban.
"We're having good discussions. We'll see what happens. It's 18 years. We're not really fighting. We're almost a police force over there. We're not supposed to be a police force," he said.
Some 14,000 U.S. troops remain engaged in America’s longest war, training and advising Afghan security forces and conducting counterinsurgency operations against militant groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State’s local affiliate.
A pullout has raised fears within the U.S. military and among some lawmakers that Afghanistan could plunge into a new civil war that could see a return of Taliban rule and give al Qaeda and other militants a sanctuary in which to expand and plot new attacks on U.S. and allied targets.
Khalilzad was travelling on Tuesday to resume talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, "as part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that ends the conflict in Afghanistan," the State Department said in a statement.
Khalilzad will consult with leaders of the Afghan government in Kabul and encourage negotiations between the two sides, it said.
Trump, inheriting a war begun by then-President George W. Bush in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, expressed a willingness to remove some of the U.S. troops there but said some are needed to make sure the United States has intelligence assets on the ground.
"We're bringing some of our troops back but we have to have a presence," he said.
He reiterated that he could end the war quickly but "I'm not looking to kill 10 million Afghans because that's what would have to happen."
"But it's a war that's been going on almost 19 years and frankly it's ridiculous. But with that being said, it's a dangerous place and we have to always keep an eye on it," he said.
Trump said the Taliban would like to stop fighting the Americans but that it is not clear the Taliban can be trusted.
"The conversations are going well. But in the end, it will be about what’s delivered on the ground, whether that’s from the Afghan government, other Afghans that aren’t inside the Afghan government, the Taliban," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday in an interview with CNBC.
"The truth will be in the reality. What really happens on the ground? If we can reduce violence, we’ll create a space where we can withdraw not only American support but NATO forces that are there as well," Pompeo said.
Islamic State militants, who battle government forces and the Taliban and have carried out some of the deadliest attacks in urban centres, will not be part of the deal between the United States and the Taliban.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a wedding in Kabul on Saturday that killed 63 people and wounded 182.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu, Humeyra Pamuk and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.