Trump says he could end Afghan war in a week, doesn’t want to because 10 million people would die
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
President Donald Trump said on Monday the United States could win the the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan in just seven days but that it would require killing too many people.
Trump made the remarks before a White House meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose country is seen as critical to advancing peace in neighbouring Afghanistan.
“I can win that war in a week, I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said.
“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth,” he continued. “I don’t want to go that route.”
Trump said he is seeking to wind down his country’s military presence in Afghanistan, which the US invaded after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The main issue on the agenda between Trump and Khan is the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan which has involved US officials and Taliban representatives.
Intense talks have occurred between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar. US officials say they want Pakistan to use its leverage in Afghanistan to help move the process forward.
Trump said he planned to continue withdrawing US troops “very slowly” and “very safely.” Khan said he wanted to compliment Trump on pushing things forward toward the end of war.
“This is the closest we have been to a peace deal in Afghanistan,” Khan said, and echoed Trump that an “all-out military” solution was not an option.
Last year, Trump cut off a 300-million-dollar aid package for Pakistan, citing a failure to counter extremism within its borders. The administration has in the past accused Islamabad of supporting the Afghan Taliban.
US officials cautioned there should be no expectation of the cash flow to resume until Pakistan demonstrates sustained change in its policies.
Pakistan, which is going through an economic crisis, will be looking to secure any assistance from the US to boost its economy and at least ensure that Washington does not take any additional steps that would hurt Islamabad.
Pakistan Information Minister Firdous Awan said ahead of the meeting that Khan would seek to repair the ties between two allies.
“The meeting will have far reaching impact in the region,” Awan told journalists in the southern city of Karachi on Monday, in an apparent reference to cooperation for Afghan peace.
At least two Pakistani intelligence officials, who spoke to dpa on the condition of anonymity, said Khan and military chief General Qamar Bajwa would request to resume the security assistance.
A senior US administration official said concern lingered about ties between Pakistan’s intelligence and military to extremist groups.
Another point of contention is Pakistan’s ongoing detention of Shakil Afridi, a doctor who helped the US find and kill Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who planned the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
The US official called Afridi a “hero” and indicated his treatment was under close scrutiny.
Khan said ahead of the meeting that he had “good news” about US hostages in Pakistan.
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