There is no plan on either to withdraw or reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan, a spokesman for US forces, Colonel David Butler said, adding that they will continue their support to their Afghan counterparts to thwart threats against Afghanistan and the United States, even after a political agreement with the Taliban.
Butler said the US-backed military pressure by Afghan forces on the Taliban will continue until the group endorses the peace process.
“No, there is no program for leaving Afghanistan,” Butler told TOLOnews on Sunday. “We are committed to the Afghan security forces. I think you heard what President (Donald) Trump said is that we are committed right now to the Afghan security forces and like Ambassador (Zalmay) Khalilzad said nothing is decided until everything is decided. So, we are here. We are fighting every day in support of the Afghan security forces,” he said.
“There is no program right now to decrease the troops… We are here. We have a shared interest together with the people of Afghanistan and we are committed to them,” added Butler.
Butler said Afghanistan and the United States have a “shared interest in combating terrorism”.
He added that the Afghan security forces have been fighting “heroically” and that he is very impressed about their commitment and how they continue to fight.
Reports about a possible withdrawal of a significant number of US forces from Afghanistan emerged last December. The US President said in his State of the Union speech that his administration is holding constructive talks with stakeholders in Afghanistan, including with the Taliban, and that it was now time to try for peace.
US has 14,000 forces in Afghanistan who are engaged in counterterror as well as train, advise and assisting mission for their Afghan counterparts. In a letter to Donald Trump last month, President Ashraf Ghani asked him to slow down the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and suggested cutting costs for the US where possible.
An Afghan Senator, Gulalai Akbari, said Afghanistan needs “foreign assistance” until peace and stability are ensured in the country as he talked about the US forces presence in Afghanistan.
The High Peace Council’s spokesman Sayed Ehsan Taheri, meanwhile, said any decision on troop withdrawal ahead before Afghan government-Taliban talks is not in favor of Afghanistan.
“We are awaiting for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” Taheri said. “Any decision on withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan ahead of these talks is not in favor of the country.”
The issue of US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan has been one of the key preconditions by the Taliban to attend direct talks with the Afghan government. However, the US and the Taliban during their four rounds of talks have not succeeded to reach an agreement on a timeline for troop withdrawal.