- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says the country is “totally ready” for US President Donald Trump to go ahead with plans under consideration to withdraw 4,000 US troops from the country.
- “We are totally ready for a withdrawal of 4,000 troops any time the president decides,” Ghani said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
- Trump has long sought to scale back the US military presence in Afghanistan, but ongoing conflict and a failure of talks with the Taliban have hampered the plans.
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Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, said at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday that his government was “totally ready” if President Donald Trump decided to scale back the US military presence in the country.
In response to a reporter’s question about escalating tensions between the US and Iran, Ghani replied: “We are totally ready for a withdrawal of 4,000 troops any time the president decides.”
In recent weeks, there has been speculation that Trump could back away from reported plans to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan amid an escalation of tensions with Iran, with which Afghanistan shares a border.
“That’s an internal US policy – as far as Afghanistan is concerned we have factored this in and we are ready to be able to see the departure of 4,000 troops,” Ghani said.
He said logistical complexities meant withdrawal was “not just an event that happens in one day” but that nevetheless “we are comfortable.”
Ghani said US bases in Afghanistan could not be used as launchpads for attacks on Iran should conflict break out, under the security agreement the two countries signed.
“We have a binding treaty, the bilateral security agreement – US bases in Afghanistan cannot be used against a third party,” he said. “We have been assured of that.”
In recent weeks, simmering tensions between the US and Iran have erupted into conflict, with the US assassinating Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran firing missiles at US bases in Iraq in retaliation.
Trump campaigned on a pledge to withdraw from costly military entanglements abroad, but under his presidency the number of US troops stationed in Afghanistan has risen to about 14,000.
In December, NBC News reported that the president was considering scaling back the number of US troops in the country by 4,000.
The president’s pledge to reduce the US military presence in the region has stalled amid a failure to broker a deal with Taliban factions in the country. In a meeting with Ghani on Wednesday, Trump said he wanted to see a reduction in Taliban violence before talks could resume, paving the way for a withdrawal.
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