U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has said that President Donald Trump will announce an American troop drawdown from Afghanistan this week, which will likely begin next year.
Graham, speaking from the Afghan capital of Kabul, said the president could reduce troop numbers to 8,600, down from the current estimated 12,000.
“The Afghan security forces are getting more capable,” said Graham. “As they achieve capability, the number of U.S. forces necessary can go down.”
Despite his past reluctance to embrace a troop withdrawal, Graham said he supports Trump’s expected drawdown. That’s because Graham says 8,600 U.S. troops would be sufficient to guarantee “Afghanistan never becomes a launching pad for another attack against the United States homeland.”
As per AP report, the South Carolina senator said America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan must be “condition-based” and that the Taliban must keep the promises they’ve made during talks.
“It’s our goal to withdraw our forces, but it is our ultimate goal to do it in a sustainable fashion. So we don’t have to come back and we don’t undercut our prestige and our standing all over the world,” he said .
Recently-resumed peace negotiations between the U.
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S. and the Taliban were again “paused” after an attack Wednesday outside Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.
Graham, however, said the Taliban could not be trusted to be a reliable counter-terrorism force.
“It would be insane for America to allow the Taliban to ensure that al-Qaeda and ISIS-K doesn’t come back in a way to represent a threat to our allies and to the American homeland.” said Graham.
Khalilzad tweeted earlier this month that IS in eastern Afghanistan has been weakened by operations carried out not just by the U.
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S. and Afghan forces, but by the Taliban as well.