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Trump Begins Strategy Talks on Leaving Afghanistan

President huddling with top advisers Friday to review talks with Taliban
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2019 10:44 AM CDT
The US envoy to the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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(Newser) – Last month, President Trump raised eyebrows with the claim that he could win the Afghanistan war in 10 days by wiping the nation "off the face of the Earth." On Friday, Trump begins a more measured approach to ending American's nearly two-decade military involvement in the country. The president will meet with top advisers—including the US envoy who has been handling talks with the Taliban for months now, Zalmay Khalilzad, reports Reuters. The Washington Post says the intent of the meeting is to begin laying out a "step-by-step withdrawal" of US troops from the country. In exchange for a phased withdrawal, the Taliban would agree to a cease-fire and to the renunciation of al-Qaeda, per the Post.

The US currently has about 15,000 troops in Afghanistan, and the deal would call for that number to be reduced to somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 initially, reports CNN. Khalilzad has conducted nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, and while both sides have reported progress, he has emphasized that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," in the words of Reuters. Much needs to be worked out, including allaying concerns of the Afghan government that the US is not abandoning it. In the US, Sen. Lindsey Graham is worried about a different issue. “Any peace agreement which denies the US a robust counter-terrorism capability in Afghanistan is not a peace deal,” he said in a statement. “Instead, it is paving the way for another attack on the American homeland and attacks against American interests around the world.” (Read more Afghanistan war stories.)

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