Washington (dpa) - After the proposed agreement with the radical Islamic Taliban, US President Donald Trump will initially leave 8600 American soldiers in Afghanistan.
"We'll go down to 8600 and then decide how to proceed from there," Trump said in an interview with Fox News Radio. He did not specify further details. But he stressed that there must always be some American presence in the country to prevent the spread of terrorist threats.
With regard to the talks between the US and the Taliban, he said, you are getting closer to a conclusion. But he could not say whether there would be an agreement at the end. "I do not know if it comes to that."
The US and the Taliban have spoken since July 2018 about a political solution to the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. The Taliban's main concern is the withdrawal of US troops. There are currently around 14,000 American soldiers in the country. The US, in turn, is primarily concerned with the Taliban's guarantees that Afghanistan will not become a terrorist retreat again.
The Americans had invaded the country after the al Qaeda plane attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda had its headquarters in Afghanistan at that time.
Trump made it clear that giving up the US presence in Afghanistan was not an option. "We have to keep an eye on Afghanistan," he warned. "We will significantly reduce our presence," Trump said, while emphasizing that he would not make the mistake that the previous US administration made in Iraq with the complete withdrawal of American troops. After the withdrawal of the Americans from Iraq, the terrorist organization IS had spread there. With regard to Afghanistan, there are also fears that terrorists could regain their footing there when international troops leave the country.
The influential Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has close proximity and much access to the president, called on Trump on Sunday not to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan to less than 8600. Otherwise, disastrous consequences threatened. One must ensure that a withdrawal does not lead to the strengthening of IS or al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The US soldiers in the country are a protection against another September 11th.
Trump has long sought to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan, as well as in other international missions. He generally follows the course - and has promised his followers to bring back as many US soldiers as possible and to end the role of the US as a "world policeman".
However, the actions of the Americans, the military leadership in Afghanistan, are also important in this matter for international partners who have also sent soldiers to the Hindu Kush. Germany, for example, leads the largest foreign mission of the Bundeswehr with more than 1250 soldiers.
Talks between the US and the Taliban should lead to peace talks in Afghanistan. So far, the Taliban refused to speak with the government in Kabul, which they regard as a "puppet" of the West. A truce is also an issue.
Spokesman for the Taliban political office, Sohail Shahin, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that the talks are nearing completion. I hope to be able to deliver good news soon.