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Conflicting statements on US withdrawal

AT News Report

KABUL: While the US officials have said about a beginning of their military pullout of Afghanistan at the start of 2020, Afghan government says that any troop withdrawal would depend on the situation.

“In a phone conversation took place on July 24, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo assured President Ghani that there was no change in Washington’s strategy for Afghanistan and that the troop drawdown will take place considering Afghanistan’s situation,” said President Ghani’s Spokesperson, Seddiq Seddiqi on Tuesday.

But Pompeo said on Monday that his boss Donald Trump wants to start the pullback process from the beginning of next year.

“I have been instructed by the president,” Pompeo said in response to a question by a journalist in Washington.

Trump had vowed to pull the US soldiers out of Afghanistan and punt an end to the US longest war during his electoral campaign in 2016. But he agreed to send additional soldiers to the war-torn country after taking office.

“The US withdrawal is not a new word and our security forces have responsibility of war right now,” said Kabir Haqmal, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

He added that American troops are just engaged in training and air operations. “We are planning to reduce needs to foreign aids by 2020.”

But analysts criticize Pompeo’s statements, saying this was neither in the benefit of the US nor of Afghanistan.

Kabir Ranjbar, former member of parliament, says the US president should pay attention to the US and Afghanistan interests, not his party’s.

“If the troop withdrawal takes place unilaterally and without coordination with the government of Afghanistan, it will be a violation of security and strategic pacts that would harm both the US and Afghan people,” Ranjbar said.

He added that US officials should recognize if they achieved their goals in Afghanistan after they get out.

The US is busy in negotiations with Taliban for almost one year, and Pompeo said recently that the talks had “real progress” and that he was optimistic to the progress.

The US diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad who is now in Kabul, is preparing for the eighth round of talks with Taliban usually held in Qatar.

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