UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States will maintain its military presence in Afghanistan even after a peace agreement with the Taliban, and will keep 8,600 soldiers.
“Yes, we must maintain our presence,” Trump told local radio. “We intend to maintain our presence there.”
He stressed that “the United States will reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan, currently 14 thousand military, significantly to remain 8,600 troops.”
“So we make a decision (on a further downsizing) as the situation evolves,” Trump said.
He pointed out that “Washington seeks to maintain its intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan at a high level.”
“We will have a permanent presence in Afghanistan,” he said.
The ninth round of negotiations between the Taliban and the US peace envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is continuing in the Qatari capital Doha, under Qatari auspices, amid expectations of an imminent agreement between the movement and Washington.
On Monday, Suhail Shahin, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political bureau, said the group was “on the verge of reaching a final agreement in Doha with the United States.”
“Washington has agreed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and resolve the Afghan issue peacefully,” Shaheen told Anatolia, a condition the Taliban had set to sit at the negotiating table with the Afghan government.
Last week, the ninth round of US-Taliban talks resumed in Doha as part of efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have been holding peace talks with the United States for nearly a year, but refuse to recognize the Afghan government or negotiate with them.
But the Taliban said they would invite all other Afghan groups to become part of the government after a peace deal with Washington.
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