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21.10.2019 10:50 News >> Afghanistan: Pentagon Chief Hints At Drawdown Of Forces

Afghanistan: Pentagon Chief Hints At Drawdown Of Forces

New US defense secretary makes first trip to Afghanistan amid stalled peace talks with Taliban.

Pentagon chief Mark Esper has indicated that the U.S. might drawdown its forces stationed in war-torn Afghanistan if a peace deal is reached.
On his maiden visit to Kabul on Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Esper told reporters accompanying him that they can "get a peace agreement at some point, a political agreement", according to a statement on the Defense Ministry website.
"And then with regard to a withdraw of forces, as we've always said, that it'll be conditions based, but we're confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our C.T. [counter-terror] operations," Esper said.
U.S. maintains nearly 14,000 troops on ground in Afghanistan. Besides counter-terror operations, the American troops are also involved in training and advising Afghanistan's military.
"But all that -- again, we think a political agreement is always the best way forward with regard to next steps in Afghanistan," he added.
The statement comes amid efforts by Pakistan to revive U.S.-Taliban peace talks which were abruptly halted by U.S. President Donald Trump last month.
The official U.S. Defense Secretary account tweeted a statement by Esper saying that NATO led by U.S. Gen. A.S. Miller will "ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorism". -



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