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More than 8,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States would pull more than 5,000 troops out of Afghanistan once it reaches an accord with the Taliban, though he seemed to rule out a complete withdrawal of American forces from the country's 18- year war. 'We're going to keep a presence there,' Trump told Fox News Radio on Thursday morning. 'We're reducing that presence very substantially, and we're going to always have a presence. We're going to have high intelligence.' He said the United States would reduce its footprint in Afghanistan where American troops train and advise Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism operations from about 14,000 troops to about 8,600. The Pentagon did not immediately confirm the withdrawal plans, and officials said they were not anticipating such an announcement Thursday.

Trump did not indicate precisely when troops would begin exiting Afghanistan. The president's statement came just one day after Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon talks of any withdrawal were premature. The United States' top military officer said removing American forces from Afghanistan would be tied to guarantees of lower levels of violence from the Taliban. Afghan forces now require American military power to keep from being overwhelmed by the Taliban, Dunford said.

However, the general said he was optimistic ongoing U.S.-Taliban negotiations would result in a reduction of violence across the country as well as an agreement for the insurgent group to negotiate a peace deal with the central Afghan government. Senior State Department and Taliban officials in recent days have indicated the two parties have inched closer to an agreement to end American involvement in the nation's longest war. 'I am not using the withdraw word right now,' Dunford said Wednesday during a televised news conference alongside Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the first such briefing held at the Pentagon in a year. 'I am using: We're going to make sure that Afghanistan is not a sanctuary (for terrorism) and we're going to try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.' Trump is a long-time critic of the war in Afghanistan, which top officials have conceded has been stalemated for at least four years. Trump has pledged since he was a candidate in 2016 to bring home American troops. In recent days, he has said any withdrawal would be based on security conditions in the country, but he also decried U.S. forces mission there as a 'ridiculous' police operation. Trump repeated his critique Thursday morning

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Publication:The Messenger (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Aug 30, 2019
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