Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has introduced a timeline to Washington’s plan on Monday for reducing troop numbers in Afghanistan. His move comes after U.S President Donald Trump wants to cut armed forces in Afghanistan by the next U.S presidential election.
The South Asia strategy of Trump called for an open-ended deployment of U.S. forces with the goal of compelling the Taliban to negotiate peace with the Kabul government to end nearly 18 years of war.
Pompeo was asked by reporters whether he expects Trump to reduce troops in Afghanistan before the November 2020 election to which he replied, “That’s my directive from the president of the United States.”
“He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars, drawdown, reduce. It won’t just be us,” he referred. “We hope that overall the need for combat forces in the region is reduced,” he added.
The revelation of a timeline will add to speculation that Trump is prepared to strike any deal with the Taliban insurgency that will grant U.S withdrawal before American voters go to the polls.
It is likely to say that the intention of Trump to decrease troop may weaken the U.S negotiating position if the Taliban believe Trump wants to withdraw ignoring the outlines of any deal. The remarks of Pompeo come at a sensitive moment as the US gets ready to engage in another conversation with the insurgents.
On Friday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pompeo had a telephonic conversation where they agreed to “accelerate efforts” to end the war, said the State Department. Pompeo stated that he was “optimistic” about negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“We want them to take their country back and we want to reduce what is, for us, tens of billions of dollars a year in expenditures,” Pompeo added.