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Trump says US will ‘always’ have troops in Afghanistan

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, June 2019. (White House/Released)
August 22, 2019

President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that some U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan will be returning home to America, but some forces would “always” remain.

During an unscheduled press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday, Trump said, “We’ll always have intelligence and we’ll always have someone there.

“That (Afghanistan) does seem to be the Harvard University of terrorism. So we’ll always have someone there,” he added.

Approximately 14,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Afghanistan, and U.S. officials are discussing the projected gradual withdrawal with Afghanistan and Taliban governments, as reported by Military Times.

Trump has previously indicated he would like a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, but noted that “it’s a dangerous place, and we have to keep an eye on it.’”

In a tweet, Trump said: “Just completed a very good meeting on Afghanistan. Many on the opposite side of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal – if possible!”

Trump referred to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan as “ridiculous,” adding, “We’re not really fighting, we’re more of a police force … and we’re not supposed to be a police force.”

“As I’ve said several times, not using nuclear, we could win that war in a week if we wanted to fight it. But I’m not looking to kill 10 million people. I’m not looking to kill 10 million Afghans, because that’s what would happen,” Trump added.

During his 2016 bid for president, Trump said he would look to end the mission in Afghanistan.

After meeting with Department of Defense officials, Trump apparently took their advice and ordered additional troops to the country. He has said that DoD leaders have opposed his idea of a total withdrawal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently that the U.S. is working with Afghan and Taliban officials to negotiate a peace deal that would include a drawdown of U.S. troops.

When asked if the Taliban would honor such a deal, Trump said “nobody can be trusted” but believes the high rate of Taliban casualties could push the group toward a peace deal.

“They haven’t been exactly getting along for a long time. But we’ve been a peacekeeper there for 19 years, and at a certain point you have to say ‘That’s long enough,” Trump said.