The US and NATO Forces Commander in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller in a meeting with Nangarhar governor on Sunday assured that they will continue to support the Afghan forces even if they get an order about troop withdrawal – an issue which Miller says is rumors by “newspapers”.
“I have seen the same rumors I have from the newspapers but all I would assure you is first of all I have no orders, so nothing changed,” he said in the meeting.
Miller said their support to Afghan forces will continue in the same level.
“But if I do get orders, I think it is important for you to know that we are still with the security forces. Even if I have get a little bit smaller, we will be okay,” he said.
Meanwhile, Miller insisted on a political solution for Afghanistan and said that “political settlement will only happen through Afghans talking to Afghans".
The US general said much has been said about Afghan forces casualties but "Taliban casualties have been very dire as well".
“What I think is important is -- I have talked often about -- a political solution, not a military solution to this conflict. It is time for the hostilities to end and it will only happen through Afghans talking to Afghans,” Miller said. “It is the time to end those hostilities to start talking to one another.”
This comes as Miller visited Farah province on Thursday, where he said they are here in Afghanistan to support peace and stability and ensure a continued support to the Afghan people.
Miller said the foreign forces are in Afghanistan to help maintain peace and safeguard the country’s national interests.
“We are here in Afghanistan to first and foremost to see peace, at some point, unity across Afghanistan and protect the national interests,” miller said.
The Ministry of Interior Affairs meanwhile said Washington so far has not made an official comment about troop reduction in Afghanistan, adding that in case there is such a plan under discussion, those forces will be withdrawn from the country who have advisory role, but not those forces who have the fighting role such as US air force.
“Afghan forces are handling the operations for several years now. We are having only the logistical and air cooperation by our international colleagues,” said MoI spokesman Najib Danish.
This comes a day after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed US President Donald Trump’s decision on withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and said it will help move forward the ongoing efforts for peace talks in Afghanistan.
According to Quraishi, the foreign forces’ callback from Afghanistan was a demand by the Taliban.
“We are not very pessimistic about the withdraw of US forces and consider the withdraw of part of the US forces in favor of peace,” said deputy head of Afghanistan High Peace Council Assadullah Zaeeri.
There are at least 14,000 forces in Afghanistan who are engaged in counterterror as well as train and advise mission for their Afghan counterparts.
His remarks come amid reports on a possible withdrawal of a “significant number” of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
On Friday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called for immediate US Senate hearings on President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria, which prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters he wanted to hear directly from Mattis at any hearing.
Mattis announced plans on Thursday to depart in a candid resignation letter to Trump that laid bare the growing divide between them.
A Senate hearing could also cover Trump administration officials saying on Thursday that there were plans to drawdown about 5,000 US troops from Afghanistan.
Graham, who over the past year or so has been a staunch supporter of Trump, has broken with him on the Syria decision.
Heading to a meeting of Republican senators, Graham said, “In lunch I’m going to ask for hearings like right now about Syria.” Trump said Islamic State had been defeated there so it was time to withdraw US forces.
Graham made clear that he also was worried about a possible US troop reduction in Afghanistan, where 14,000 troops are deployed in what is America’s longest war at 17 years.
The United States went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, seeking to oust the Taliban militants harboring Saudi-raised militant Osama bin Laden, who led plans to carry out the attacks.