US President Donald Trump has vowed to personally meet with leaders of the Afghan militant group that the American military sought to root out when it led a massive invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, dismissing criticism of the deal Washington signed with Taliban.
Speaking hours after US and Taliban representatives signed a pact on Saturday aimed at gradually withdrawing American-led foreign troops from the war-ravaged nation and eventually ending the longest war in the US history, Trump further said the deal would allow Washington to its forces in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 within months if the Taliban adheres to its conditions.
The US president, however, insisted that the American military could quickly return forces back into Afghanistan if needed, amid expectations that the forthcoming negotiations between the Afghan sides will be more complicated than the initial pact.
Trump, who has frequently boasted his desire to halt “endless wars,” did not indicate where he would be meeting the leaders of the insurgent group that has fiercely resisted the US military presence in Afghanistan since its occupation of the country following the September 11, 2001 terrorist incidents in New York and near Washington.
Trump further proclaimed during a White House press briefing that Afghanistan’s neighbours should help maintain stability in the war-torn nation following the agreement.
This is while the hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also hailed what he referred to as “historic talks” that led to the signing of the pact with the Taliban after more than 18 years of a failed US-led military campaign in Afghanistan, with persisting deadly terror attacks across the country, which mostly remains under the control of the insurgent group.
However, the agreement has also been widely criticized in Washington, even by Trump’s Republican allies and former aides, including his previous national security adviser John Bolton, who blasted the pact as “and Obama-style deal.”
“Signing this agreement with Taliban is an unacceptable risk to America’s civilian population,” Bolton wrote in a Twitter post. “This is an Obama-style deal. Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to [ISIS] and al-Qaida terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”
Bolton, who was also a key figure in Trump’s recent impeachment proceedings in the US Congress over his attempted interventions in Ukraine, has written a book about his time in the White House as the top national security adviser, but Trump is trying to block its publication.
The US president was asked at the White House press briefing on Saturday about Bolton’s statement regarding the Taliban deal, blaming the former adviser for backing the military invasion of Afghanistan.
“Nobody should be criticizing this deal after 19 years. He had his chance, he didn’t do it,” Trump said of Bolton.
“He was very much in favour of going in, we should never have gone in in the first place,” Trump added. “When they went into Iraq, when they went into the Middle East in such a fashion I was very much against it.”
In fact, however, Trump had voiced his support for the military occupation of Iraq at the time. – Press TV.