Taliban term Trump’s decision to pull out troops a ‘positive step’

Top News Trump orders ‘significant’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Afghanistan's security forces rely heavily on USA airpower against both Taliban and an upstart Islamic State affiliate, and Afghan military officials note the announcement by the Trump administration comes as the country's security is at its worst since 2014, when more than 100,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops pulled out of the country and handed off security to Afghans.

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that more than 7,000 troops would be returning from Afghanistan.

Trump said past year that a rapid exit of the USA troops from Afghanistan "unacceptable", and sent more than 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.

He said most of the U.S. forces likely to be withdrawn "are engaged in a training and advising mission for Afghan forces, and Afghan forces are capable of defending the country".

The consideration comes just one day after Trump announced he was pulling 2,000 USA troops out of Syria within 30 days.

Some 2,000 US troops are in northern Syria assisting an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters battling against Islamic State (IS) militants. While this decision could affect security and political stability in Afghanistan, it could also be a show of good faith for the Taliban to negotiate peace, he added. Some analysts said the decision would bolster the Taliban's long-held view that the USA would eventually give up on its military intervention in Afghanistan.

It is not clear if United States peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad or the Afghan government had been warned of Trump's plans in advance. They carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces and government officials.

"The conditions in Afghanistan - at the present moment - make American troop withdrawals a high-risk strategy", he said.

Mattis twice drafted letters over the past two years asking North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to increase or maintain their troop levels and many countries agreed, said Campbell, the former Pentagon official.

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In an interview with Afghanistan's TOLO TV on Thursday - hours before the withdrawal plans were announced - he noted Trump had campaigned for president on a promise to end the Afghan war, which has already cost Americans almost $1 trillion.

Last month, a study by the Brown University's Watson Institute for worldwide and Public Affairs said hundreds of thousands of people have been killed due to the so-called "war on terror" launched by the United States in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, including 38,480 civilians in Afghanistan.

The US eventually killed Bin Laden and American-led combat operations against the group officially ended in 2014.

A statement on the president's website said representatives of Saudi Arabia, UAE and USA regretted the Taliban's decision to decline direct talks with the Afghan government's team and emphasised that friendly countries would play their role for direct talks between the Taliban and the government.

Replying to a question on worsening human rights situation in Occupied Kashmir, the Foreign Minister said Pakistan has consistently been raising the issue at all worldwide fora.

"That decision has been made".

USA officials have been attempting to push the Taliban to the negotiating table with the government in Kabul.

But a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani downplayed the effect of any pullout.

After taking office, however, Trump was persuaded by senior national security aides to authorize a mini-surge of troops to Afghanistan and continue the anti-ISIS mission in Syria.

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