Donald Trump optimistic about Afghanistan peace deal
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had discussed his country’s planned peace deal with the Afghan Taliban with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “India would like to see it happen”.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told reporters that a partial truce in Afghanistan between the Taliban, American and Afghan forces is holding despite insurgent attacks and US strikes against the Islamic State.
The Taliban, US and Afghan forces have committed to a partial, week-long truce, only the second such lull in fighting since 2001. If the truce holds, the US and the Taliban are expected to sign a deal in Doha on Saturday that would see thousands of American troops leave Afghanistan after more than 18 years.
“I spoke with Prime Minister Modi today and I think they [India] would very much like to see it happen and we’re pretty close,” Trump told a news conference hours after holding talks with Modi when he was asked about India’s security concerns regarding the proposed deal.
Though the Taliban are expected to offer various security commitments to the US, the Indian side harbours deep suspicions about the terrorist group because of its deep and long-standing links to Pakistan’s security establishment. Trump, however, appeared optimistic. He said, “We’ve got two days now under our belt without violence, or I guess a minimum of violence, and we’ll see what happens. But people want to see it.”
The US is trying very hard to bring its troop levels in Afghanistan down to 8,600 and “from there, we’ll make a decision as to what the final outcome would be”, he said.
“We’re really serving not as a military force but as a police force, and we’re not a police force, they [Afghans] have to police their own country,” he said.
Even after a possible troop drawdown, the US will maintain a presence in Afghanistan. “We’ll always have intelligence, they will have other things there, but for the most part, we’d like to bring them back home,” Trump said. “We’re going to watch the area, [which] is a hotbed of problems and when we bring them home, we’ll let them know that if something happens, we will hit them so hard.”
Trump reiterated his contention that he could easily win the war in Afghanistan if “I wanted to kill millions of people”, but added he didn’t want to do that. “So let’s see what happens, so far so good,” he said.
New Delhi also has concerns about the Taliban’s inclusion in any future dispensation in Kabul without any assurances from the group that it will give up violence and retain the constitutional structures that have been built over the past 18 years with the assistance of countries such as India.