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Politics Senator says Trump could decide to withdraw troops from Afghanistan within weeks

08:45  17 december  2019
08:45  17 december  2019 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Trump admin intends to announce Afghanistan drawdown as early as next week

  Trump admin intends to announce Afghanistan drawdown as early as next week Trump had made clear to his advisers earlier this year that he wanted to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the November 2020 election. "It's all about talking points in 2020," the former official said.The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

that “the precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains “An American withdrawal would definitely affect the war,” she said during a visit to Washington to New York, had endorsed Mr. Trump ’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan .

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the withdrawal could pave the way towards "a second 9/11". The possibility of withdrawing from Afghanistan could have been a factor but the Syria "Now that Mattis is on his way out, Trump will face even less resistance in his decision to withdraw

Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Monday that President Donald Trump could decide in the next few weeks to announce a partial withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Lindsey Graham wearing a suit and tie: Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2019.© Rahmat Gul/AP Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2019.

During a visit to Kabul, the South Carolina Republican said he could support a decision by Trump to reduce troop levels from about 12,000 to 8,600 -- a figure that Trump expressed support for this past August.

“The Afghan security forces are getting more capable,” Graham told reporters in Kabul. “As they achieve capability, the number of U.S. forces necessary can go down.”

Downsized US force in Afghanistan would still pack 'lethal punch': Trump ally

  Downsized US force in Afghanistan would still pack 'lethal punch': Trump ally The US military can slash its troop presence in Afghanistan and still pack a "lethal punch," an influential American lawmaker and close confidant to President Donald Trump said Monday. "With 8,600 American forces aligned in the right configuration, we would have a very lethal punch".Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also said it would be "insane" for the US to trust the Taliban to keep Al-Qaeda and other jihadists in check, attacking a cornerstone of a prospective deal between Washington and the Taliban.

Sen . Lindsey Graham said that President Donald Trump will announce the partial withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this week . During a visit to Kabul, the South Carolina Republican said the president could reduce troop levels from about 13,000 to 8,600 -- a figure that

Lindsey Graham said on Monday that President Donald Trump will announce the partial withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this week . «The commander feels confident we can go down to a lower level without jeopardizing our ability to ensure that Afghanistan doesn’t become a

“So if President Trump decides in the next few weeks to reduce our forces below the 12,000 we have, I could support that,” said Graham.

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The White House declined to comment.

The president has long advocated for a reduction in the number of American forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Most recently, he told service members during a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan, that he would "reduce" forces there "very substantially."

But the partial withdrawal could be seen as a key concession to the Taliban by making clear Trump's intent to pull all troops out of the country, possibly undermining the U.S. negotiating position following the initial collapse of peace talks this fall.

Roadside bombing kills 10 civilians in Afghanistan

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Donald Trump 's Syria withdrawal could reverberate for years. Read more. Senators Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez and Jack spoke out against Donald Trump ’s decision to ‘After Donald Trump unexpectedly announced that the US would be pulling its troops out of Syria on Wednesday

Sen . Lindsey Graham said Monday that President Donald Trump will announce an American troop Speaking from the Afghan capital of Kabul, Graham said the president could reduce troop Trump has told his advisers he wants to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the November 2020

a room that has a sign on a wall: Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2019.© Rahmat Gul/AP Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2019.

In a statement, U.S. Forces Afghanistan said they had not received orders to reduce troops levels.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that reducing forces is not contingent on a peace deal with the Taliban, saying that there has been a "marked improvement" in the performance of Afghan Security Forces that are "leading the way" against extremist groups like the Taliban and ISIS with U.S. support.

"The commander feels confident we can go down to a lower level without jeopardizing our ability to ensure that Afghanistan doesn't become a safe haven for terrorism," Esper told the Reagan Defense Forum on Dec. 7.

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The secretary said he's in favor of the reduction in order to "reallocate" U.S. troops to the Asia-Pacific region to deter aggressive actions by China.

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US President Donald Trump is planning to withdraw about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan and will make the official announcement in the next coming days, NBC Khalilzad had renewed talks with Taliban negotiators earlier this month on steps that could lead to a ceasefire and a settlement of the

US President Donald Trump has decided to pull a significant number of troops from Afghanistan , a US "If they withdraw from Afghanistan it will not have a security impact because in the last four and half Trump at the time said his instinct was to get out of Afghanistan . Khalilzad, who has met with

But any draw down of U.S. forces would come without an agreement between U.S. negotiators, led by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban. Those talks nearly reached a final agreement in September before Trump invited the militant group to Camp David, rescinded, tweeted about it, and declared talks "dead."

This month, the two sides restarted negotiations, with a State Department official telling ABC News, "The focus of discussion will be reduction of violence that leads to intra-Afghan negotiations and a ceasefire."

Instead, the talks took a break last Thursday after a Taliban attack the day prior on an abandoned medical facility outside Bagram. Khalilzad said he "expressed outrage" to Taliban negotiators and both sides agreed to "a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic" of a reduction in violence.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen made no mention of that in his readout, saying the meetings were "good and positive" and would resume after "a few days' breaks and consultations."

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A full U.S. withdrawal has been a sticking point of negotiations. While the Taliban are demanding all U.S. troops depart the country, some U.S. officials are pushing for a residual counter terrorism force.

The timeline of that withdrawal is also a key issue, with the U.S. pushing for the militant group to sit down to talks with the Afghan government before all troops are out -- and America's strongest piece of leverage is gone.

Nineteen American service members have been killed in Afghanistan in 2019, making it the deadliest year for U.S. forces there in five years.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Sen. Graham said a troop drawdown announcement could come in a matter of weeks, not this week as was reported earlier.

Remains of soldier killed in Afghanistan returned to U.S. .
The remains of a soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan on Monday have been returned to the U.S., arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the Department of Defense confirmed on Wednesday. The Pentagon identified the soldier as 33-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Michael Goble, who was from Washington Township, N.J. National security adviser Robert O'Brien and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were among U.S. officials in attendance at the Christmas Day transfer of the case containing the remains to a vehicle from the aircraft, the AP reported.A spokesperson for the Department of Defense was not immediately available for comment.

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