BISHKEK (TCA) — In a major address to the nation on August 21, U.S. President Donald Trump outlined his strategy to address Afghanistan and the South Asia region, RFE/RL reported.
Speaking at the Fort Myer military base near Washington, Trump said the United States was in Afghanistan not for nation building, but rather, “we are killing terrorists.”
Trump also said the United States needs a plan for an “honorable and enduring outcome” in Afghanistan, and added that a rapid exit would have “unacceptable” consequences.
The president also warned that Washington will no longer tolerate Pakistan offering “safe havens” to extremist groups like the Afghan Taliban, a claim Islamabad denies.
“We will not talk about numbers of troops,” Trump said, noting, “America’s enemies must never know our plan.” Trump was widely expected to announce a US troop surge in Afghanistan but instead offered a number of vague details that includes authorizing more power to “target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan,” he said, Sputnik news agency reported.
The United States currently maintains 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.
Trump said it would be “possible” to eventually negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban — even though previous administrations have said the US will never negotiate with terrorists. Trump noted that it will be important to cooperate with the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India in order to bring stability to the region.
“Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban and Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,” said Trump during the speech. “America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field.”