Trump to withdraw 'significant' troops from Afghanistan

Trump To Pull Half Of Troops From Afghanistan: Report

Afghans To Trump: Your Troop Withdrawal Plan Could Derail Peace Process

U.S. President Donald Trump's reported plans to withdraw around 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, roughly half the remaining U.S. military presence there, has prompted much discussion about the impact the drawdown could have on the country.

The U.S.'s plans to withdraw about 7,000 troops, almost half of its current strength, from Afghanistan, has invited strong, shocked reactions from Afghans as well as worldwide stakeholders.

"This signals to the Taliban that the U.S.is serious about negotiating an exit", says Smith, adding that it would erode the militant's skepticism that Washington is open to withdrawing from Afghanistan.

The US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but American and allied troops remain, conducting strikes on the Islamic State group and the Taliban and working to train and build the Afghan military.

The Taliban was toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks masterminded by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who had been harboured by Afghanistan.

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On Wednesday, Trump rebuffed top advisers and chose to pull all USA troops out of Syria, a decision that was swiftly followed by the abrupt resignation of U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday over significant policy differences with the president. "We want peace here with respect to set objectives - that Afghanistan will not be a threat for the USA - and that we have a positive relationship with Afghanistan".

Taliban insurgents, however, control almost half of Afghanistan and are more powerful than at any time since a 2001 US-led invasion.

It is not clear if United States peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad or the Afghan government had been aware of Trump's plans.

The decision to remove United States forces will complicate negotiations with the Taliban over reconciliation with the Afghan government, Reed said. He resigned shortly after U.S. officials raised the possibility that Trump would order the drawdown. "Would you be thinking of a ceasefire if your main opponent has just withdrawn half of their troops?"

"If you're the Taliban, Christmas has come early", a senior foreign official in the Afghan capital told AFP news agency on the condition of anonymity.

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Trump said in several tweets early on December 20 that his decision was in line with his promise from his 2016 presidential campaign to withdraw from Syria.

Replying to a question on worsening human rights situation in Occupied Kashmir, the Foreign Minister said Pakistan has consistently been raising the issue at all worldwide fora.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would be a "high risk strategy" which could reverse U.S. progress in the region and pave the way toward a "second 9/11".

He said Pakistan will continue to play whatever role it can play to support the Afghan peace process, the Dawn report said.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to counter attacks from the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops in 2014.

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Mattis has been widely seen in Afghanistan as a guarantor of USA engagement, and his departure would inevitability raise worries in the minds of many Afghan officials.

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