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Trump to mull over troop surge in Afghanistan

AT-KABUL: In order to ward off terror attacks this spring and prevent insurgents from gaining ground, the US President Donald Trump told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a call last month that he would mull over sending more troops to Afghanistan, said Afghan officials.

On December 3, President Ghani spoke by phone with Donald Trump and congratulated him on his victory in the presidential polls. The two leaders discussed ties between Kabul and Washington.

The US and Afghan presidents talked about security situation in Afghanistan and ties with Islamabad which has dropped to sub-zero level.  The US president asked Ashraf Ghani if he needed more American troops in Afghanistan.

Trump told Ghani that his administration would continue to support Afghan security forces. He also assured the Afghan president to mull over sending more US soldiers to Afghanistan after an assessment.

According to the readout of the call, posted on Afghanistan’s Embassy in Washington, the Afghan president hoped that bilateral ties would grow further under the Trump administration.

“President Ghani also expressed his deep appreciation for the sacrifices and contributions the US has made in Afghanistan. He stressed that the joint war against terrorism has made America a foundational partner to the people of Afghanistan and said the investments made by the United States into Afghanistan’s development are bearing fruit,” according to the readout.

The two leaders also discussed natural riches in the country. “President Ghani noted that US-Afghan cooperation has especially benefitted Afghanistan’s mining sector and helped Afghanistan develop the country’s abundant natural resources – an essential building block of a strong economy that will help Afghanistan achieve its goal of self-reliance.”

To halt deterioration in security situation in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has decided in first week of January to deploy a new task force of around 300 soldiers to the southern Helmand province in the spring. The deployment is aimed to help train Afghan security forces, a military website reported late Friday.

“US Central Command had requested the deployment,” the Stars and Stripes quoted 1st Lt. Katie Kochert, a spokeswoman for the Marine unit, as saying. It is worth mentioning that the marines first entered Helmand province at the beginning of the war in 2001.

“The Marine Corps has an operational history in Afghanistan, particularly in Helmand province,” Kochert said. “Advising and assisting Afghan defense and security forces will assist in preserving gains made together with the Afghans…”

Helmand is one of the most embattled provinces in southern Afghanistan, where almost all districts, save for the provincial capital, are either heavily embattled or fully controlled by Taliban militants.

During an interview with EFE, a Spanish news agency, the former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that he would like to see the new US president to fight against extremism in Afghanistan.

“Now that President Trump has recognized the need for friendship with Russia, which is a good thing that I admire in him, he must as soon as possible sit down with President Putin (Vladimir Putin of Russia) and chart a common way forward,” the news agency quoted Karzai.



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