US President Donald Trump on Meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said the US has made “a lot of progress” toward ending the war in Afghanistan in negotiations with the Taliban in recent weeks and made clear his disdain for the US’ ongoing US military presence in Afghanistan.
Welcoming Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Oval Office on Monday, Trump diminished the US’ 18-year war in Afghanistan as one where the US has “acted as policemen, not soldiers” and suggested the US could swiftly end it through brute military strength that would leave “10 million people” dead. That option, he said, is not one he intends to pursue.
“We’ve been there for 19 years and we’ve acted as policemen, not soldiers,” Trump said, mischaracterizing the length of the war. “Again, if we wanted to be soldiers we could end it in one week, 10 days.”
“We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win it in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? I don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments came as he welcomed Khan to the White House for the first time on Monday with Afghanistan peace talks and Pakistani support for a range of militant groups topping the agenda. Senior administration officials said that Trump would press the Pakistani prime minister to crack down on militants in Pakistan and provide more support for ongoing the US-Taliban peace. But while Trump said Pakistan had previously been “subversive” to US efforts to combat the Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan, he suggested that unhelpfulness was in the past.
“I don’t think Pakistan respected the United States, I don’t think Pakistan respected its presidents,” Trump said. “And I don’t blame them because they were dealing with the wrong presidents.”
Instead, Trump touted Pakistan’s role in fomenting progress in the US-Taliban talks in recent weeks and said he believes Pakistan “is going to help us out to extricate ourselves” from the war in Afghanistan.
Khan, for his part, argued right now is “the closest we have been to a peace deal” in Afghanistan.
“We hope that in the coming days we will be able to urge the Taliban to speak with the Afghan government,” Khan said.