Pentagon chief in Afghanistan for firsthand look at U.S.’ longest war – National


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Mark Esper sought a firsthand evaluation Sunday of the U.S. army’s future function in America’s longest struggle as he made his preliminary go to to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief. Stalled peace talks with the Taliban and unrelenting assaults by the rebel group and Islamic State militants have sophisticated the Trump administration’s pledge to withdraw greater than 5,00zero American troops.

Esper advised reporters touring with him that he believes the U.S. can cut back its power in Afghanistan to eight,600 with out hurting the counterterrorism struggle in opposition to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. However he stated any withdrawal would occur as a part of a peace settlement with the Taliban.

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The U.S. has about 14,00zero American troops in Afghanistan as a part of the American-led coalition. U.S. forces are coaching and advising Afghan forces and conducting counterterrorism operations in opposition to extremists. President Donald Trump had ordered a troop withdrawal along with the peace talks that may have left about eight,600 American forces within the nation.

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U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had a preliminary peace cope with the Taliban, however a surge in Taliban violence and the demise of an American soldier final month prompted Trump to cancel a secret Camp David assembly the place the peace deal would have been finalized. He declared the tentative settlement useless.

2:19Trump tells Pentagon to start out pulling troops from northern Syria

Trump tells Pentagon to start out pulling troops from northern Syria

“The purpose is to nonetheless get a peace settlement in some unspecified time in the future, that’s one of the simplest ways ahead,” stated Esper. He visited Afghanistan in his earlier job as U.S. Military secretary.

He wouldn’t say how lengthy he believes it might be earlier than a brand new peace accord may very well be achieved.

A month after the peace settlement collapsed, Khalilzad met with Taliban in early October in Islamabad, Pakistan, nevertheless it was not clear what progress, if any, was being made.

Esper’s arrival in Kabul got here as Afghan authorities leaders delayed the deliberate announcement of preliminary outcomes of final month’s presidential election. Esper met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and different authorities officers.

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Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi was visiting Afghanistan with a congressional delegation on the similar time.

Her workplace stated in an announcement Sunday night time the bipartisan delegation met with high Afghan leaders, civil society representatives and U.S. army chiefs and troops serving there. Pelosi says the delegation emphasised the significance of combating corruption and guaranteeing girls are on the desk in reconciliation talks.

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Each Ghani and his present companion within the unity authorities, Chief Govt Abdullah Abdullah, have stated they imagine they’d sufficient votes to win. The Sept. 28 vote was marred by widespread misconduct and accusations of fraud.

1:27Mark Esper is sworn in as protection secretary

Mark Esper is sworn in as protection secretary

Officers stated the announcement of preliminary outcomes has been delayed resulting from issues with the transparency of the method, delays in transferring poll papers and delays in transferring information from a biometric system into the primary server.

Esper deliberate to fulfill together with his high commanders in Afghanistan because the U.S. works to find out the best way forward within the 18-year struggle.

Trump, since his 2016 presidential marketing campaign, has spoken of a must withdraw U.S. troops from the “countless struggle” in Afghanistan. He has complained that the U.S. has been serving as policemen in Afghanistan, and says that’s not the American army’s job.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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