Amid reports on a possible withdrawal of American troops, the US President Donald Trump at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday insisted on regional countries' role in Afghanistan and said that Russia and Pakistan should be fighting in Afghanistan, not the United States.
“So you take a look at other countries—Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight,” Trump said.
Trump seemed to misstate the former Soviet Union's involvement in Afghanistan that "Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan," Trump said. "The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there."
Trump brought up India's aid during a rambling press appearance at a cabinet meeting as he defended his push for the United States to invest less overseas.
While stating that he got along with PM Modi, the US President said PM Modi was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan."
"You know what that is? That's like five hours of what we spend," he said.
"And we're supposed to say, 'Oh, thank you for the library.' I don't know who's using it in Afghanistan," Trump said.
It was unclear to which project Trump was referring, but India has committed $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taliban regime after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Projects have included the reconstruction of an elite high school in Kabul and scholarships to India for 1,000 Afghan students each year.
The remarks during a 95-minute cabinet meeting at the White House gave new insight into Trump’s vision of Afghanistan and his frustration with the stalemate in that war-torn country—as well as with the generals who have advised him to stay, including his just-departed defense secretary, James Mattis.
“What’s he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan?” Trump said on Mattis. “I’m not happy with what he done in Afghanistan, and I shouldn’t be happy.” Trump said, added that he’d “essentially” fired Mattis, though the Marine general resigned in protest over Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria.