US troops in Afghanistan to be home by Christmas: Trump


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ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban on Thursday welcomed a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he promised to have the last of US troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas — or at least by the end of the year. If that withdrawal happens, it would be months ahead of schedule and the tweet made no reference to a Taliban promise to fight terrorist groups — a previous pre-requisite for an American withdrawal.
In a tweet that seemed to contradict his national security adviser, Trump said “we should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas.”

On Wednesday, NSA Robert O’Brien, speaking of American forces in Afghanistan, told an audience in Las Vegas that “as of today, there are under 5,000 and that will go to 2,500 by early next year.”
Yet when asked about his tweet, Trump told Fox Business Channel: “We’re down to 4,000 troops in Afghanistan. I’ll have them home by the end of the year. They’re coming home, you know, as we speak. Nineteen years is enough. They’re acting as policemen, OK? They’re not acting as troops.”
America’s exit from Afghanistan after 19 years was laid out in an agreement Washington reached with the Taliban in February. However, that agreement said US troops would be out of Afghanistan in 18 months, provided the Taliban honoured a commitment to fight terrorist groups.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said Trump’s statement was welcome and he considered it a positive step for the implementation of the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban. .
Trump’s comments caught most Afghan observers by surprise and the Afghan government did not immediately respond to to the tweet. Pentagon has not yet responded to Trump’s tweet.

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