US to keep 8,600 troops in Afghanistan after deal with Taliban

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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States will keep a permanent presence in Afghanistan, with 8,600 troops initially, even after a deal is reached with the Taliban.
“We’re going down to 8,600 and then we make a determination from there,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News radio. “We’re always going to have a presence.”
Trump also warned that if another attack on the United States originated from Afghanistan “we would come back with a force like … never before.”
The comments provided some clarity on US intentions after lengthy negotiations with the Afghan guerrilla group over finding an exit from a war that has lasted two decades.
Despite overwhelming advantages in firepower, the US military has little to show for its efforts and Trump is hoping he can declare the war over in time for his 2020 reelection campaign.
Washington has been talking to the Taliban since at least 2018, with the main sticking point being how to get sufficient guarantees that Taliban territory will not be used by Al-Qaeda or other international militant groups to plot attacks on the United States.
There are currently around 14,000 US troops in the country, a number already far down from a peak of around 100,000.
The Taliban want all US troops out. But Trump underlined that there was to be no complete withdrawal, keeping a force that would provide “high intelligence.”
“You have to keep a presence,” he said.


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