UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would maintain a permanent US military presence in Afghanistan, where 8,600 troops would initially be retained after an agreement with the Taliban to end the country’s 18-year conflict.
“We will reduce the number of our troops to 8,600 and we will see after that. We will always have a presence” in Afghanistan, Trump said in an interview with Fox News.
Trump warned that if the United States came under a new attack from Afghanistan, Washington would return “more strongly” than ever before.
Trump’s comments illustrate US intentions after long negotiations with the Taliban aimed at ending the war.
Despite his military superiority, the US military has not achieved much, and Trump hopes to be able to declare the war over before his re-election campaign in 2020.
Washington has been in talks with the Taliban since at least 2018. One of the sticking points is to provide assurances that Afghan territory will not be allowed to be used by al Qaeda or other global armed organizations to plan attacks on the United States.
There are currently between 13 thousand and 14 thousand US troops in Afghanistan after reaching a peak of 98 thousand in 2011.
The armed movement is demanding the withdrawal of all US troops. However, Trump stressed that the withdrawal would not be complete while maintaining a force capable of providing “high-level intelligence.”
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