Khalilzad-a former US ambassador to Afghanistan under the George W. Bush administration-has shuttled across the region with a relentless energy since then, and a USA delegation concluded three days of talks with the Taliban in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. But it's unclear what troops are still doing in Afghanistan, a country the US invaded in the name of dismantling Al Qaeda and rooting out the Taliban.
The withdrawal of half of the 14,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan will have little impact on the fighting capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces, the spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said Friday. "There will be a significant withdrawal", the American official told AFP on condition of anonymity on Thursday. The Pentagon also has 25,239 private security contractors deployed in Afghanistan. This too could possibly be why USA allies are not too pleased with Trump's decision to pull out a major chunk of his troops. "It is too early to say anything for now", said a senior Afghan government official. There are many within the Taliban who oppose negotiations and advocate waiting out Washington's patience and money. The latest talks in the United Arab Emirates from December 17-19 were seen as the most significant yet.
The news, first reported Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, is certain to worry senior officials in Afghanistan, who already are battling deteriorating security in the country despite the presence of about 14,000 US troops.
"The last thing it (Pakistan) wants is a radical Islamist state on its Western border, even if that eliminates or reduces Indian influence in Afghanistan", said Shuja Nawaz, author and fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.
The official has further added that timelines were being discussed but it could happen in weeks or months.
Afghan Taliban militants in Jalalabad in June.
A Taliban official said the announcement is a positive step which could "lead to trust building that the USA wants a political solution".
The Associated Press reported that members of Trump's national-security team, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mattis, wrote out talking points to dissuade Turkey from bringing troops into northern Syria and attacking Turkish Kurds, which would put USA forces at risk.
"The fact that the USA has chose to withdraw its troops is right", Russian President Vladimir Putin said during an annual year-end press conference, saying that "on the whole I agree with the U.S. president" on the level of damage inflicted on Islamic State.
"Some of the insurgents did not believe that the USA military would give up a strategic foothold in South Asia". "This will also force the Afghan government to think about peace as a short-term prospect instead of something that could be delayed for years".
As has become customary, us military officials at the Pentagon and Afghanistan had no information to provide about a decision that could affect thousands of USA troops. The Kabul government was not briefed on the plans.
The Afghan military will dissolve without American support, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., incoming Central Command chief, told lawmakers during a confirmation hearing earlier this month.
A troop withdrawal, Martin added, does not mean the USA can not have a role in helping the Syrian people or securing a better future for the nation.
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