Trump withdraws more than 5,000 troops from Afghanistan

The U.S. President Donald Trump withdraws more than 5,000 U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan amid reports verbal orders have been given to start work on withdrawal plans.

A U.S. official speaking condition of anonymity has told Reuters that a decision had been made and verbal orders had been given to start planning for the drawdown.

The official has further added that timelines were being discussed but it could happen in weeks or months.

This comes as the U.S. President Donald Trump had earlier ordered the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Syria.

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Taliban publish open letter calling on U.S. to start Afghan peace talks

The Taliban have published an open letter expressing a desire for peace talks and calling on the “American people” and “peace-loving congressmen” to press their government to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The letter assailed U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy announced last August that called for military force to bring a more compliant Taliban to the negotiation table.

“If the policy of using force is continued for another one hundred years,” the letter reads, “the outcome will be the same … as you have observed over the last six months since the initiation of Trump’s new strategy.”

The letter promised a more inclusive regime, education and rights for all, including women. However, it seemed to rule out power-sharing, saying they had the right to form a government.

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Trump Signs $700 Billion Military Budget

US President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping defense bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons threat, Chicago Tribune reported.

The report said that the $700 billion budget won’t become reality until lawmakers agree to roll back a 2011 law that sets strict limits on federal spending, including by the Defense Department. The current law caps 2018 defense spending at $549 billion.

Before he signed the bill at the White House, Trump called on Congress to “finish the job” and end the cap on defense spending.

“I think it’s going to happen,” said Trump, joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and other senior military leaders. “We need our military. It’s got to be perfecto.”

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Kabul sees no change in Pakistan’s anti-terror approach

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Thursday said the Afghan government sees no significant change in Pakistan’s policy towards insurgents, even after US President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

No change has occurred in Pakistan’s policy towards the insurgents and instead relations between Kabul and Islamabad have further deteriorated, MoFA deputy spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi said on Thursday.

This comes ahead of US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ visit to Islamabad in December where he will hold discussions with Pakistani officials on the issue of insurgent safe havens and sanctuaries in the country.

In August Trump unveiled his new war strategy that encompasses Afghanistan and South Asia. In the new strategy, the US leader strongly criticized Pakistan for its controversial role in the campaign against terrorism and accused Islamabad of harboring militant groups that continue to wage war against Afghanistan.

Although Trump adopted a harsh tone towards Pakistan in the new strategy, Kabul has stated that there has been no visible change in Pakistan’s anti-terror policy nor has it taken solid action against militants.

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American, Canadian Freed After Being Held Hostage Since 2012

Canadian Joshua Boyle and American Caitlan Coleman along with their children were freed this week during an operation involving Pakistani forces.

The couple were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012 and have in that time had three children.
They were reportedly held by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network.

According to Fox News, the operation that set Coleman, Boyle and their children free was undertaken by Pakistani forces based on actionable intelligence provided by US authorities, according to a statement by the ISPR.

US intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and shared the location with Pakistani counterparts when the hostages shifted into Pakistani territory Wednesday.

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Trump Unveils Long-Awaited Afghan Strategy

The US President Donald Trump early on Tuesday morning announced his administration’s new strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia.

After paying tribute to the US forces in Afghanistan, Trump said “I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.”

He was expected to talk about number of US troops which will be deployed to Afghanistan based on the new strategy. However, he did not mention this matter in his speech.

“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities,” he said. “America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.”

He said the US victory in Afghanistan will have a definition.

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Trump Seeks New Ideas On Afghan War

U.S President Donald Trump this week had lunch with a group of senior service members in a bid to come up with ideas on fighting the war in Afghanistan.

Trump said before the lunch that he wants “to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going and what we should do in terms of additional ideas.”

He said: “We have plenty of ideas from a lot of people, but I want to hear it from people on the ground.”

This comes as Trump’s aides search for an improved strategy in tackling the war – a war that has been ongoing for 17 years.

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Karzai: Trump and Putin must work together on Afghanistan

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin must work together on Afghanistan.

During an interview with Agencia EFE on Friday, Karzai said he would wait to see the first steps he takes in the fight against extremism in Afghanistan.

“Now that President Trump has recognized the need for friendship with Russia, which is a good thing that I admire in him, he must as soon as possible sit down with President Putin (Vladimir Putin of Russia) and chart a common way forward,” Karzai said.

He suggested that President Trump must first re-analyze and re-evaluate what had gone wrong in the past in order for his administration employ actionable policies in the region.

The former Afghan leader pointed towards Pakistan’s interference in Afghanistan and said peace Afghanistan can be achieved “by being clear with Pakistan, first.”

“Second, by seeking the cooperation of Russia, China and India. Mainly, especially Russia here, because Russians are very suspicious now of what is going on,” he added.

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Afghan Taliban react on Donald Trump’s election as US president

The Taliban militants group in Afghanistan issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon to react on Donald Trump’s election as the new US president.

The group in its statement said “Thee US election appears to show the victory of the Republican presidential runner Donald Trump.”

The Taliban statement further added “Our message to him is that the US government policies should be made in a way that do not compromise with the freedom of the other nations and do not seek its interests in the killing and conviction of the others.”

The statement further added that the adoption of such a policy will lead to universal peace and will put an end to the ongoing violence.

Taliban urged the newly elected US President to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan as it claimed victory in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, claiming that the US should not further harm its prestige, economy, forces and generals in the country.

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Ghani, Abdullah Congratulate Trump

Just hours after Donald Trump became the U.S president-elect on Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani congratulated Trump on his win.

Ghani said in a statement that the U.S “is an essential and important strategic partner to Afghanistan in development of the country and fighting terrorism.”

“The government of Afghanistan hopes that in close cooperation with the new president of the United States, relations between the two countries expand further and develop in a way that is in the interest of the two countries and nations,” Ghani said.

He also wished Trump further success in fulfilling his new responsibility.

CEO Abdullah Abdullah also extended his congratulations to Trump for becoming the 45 president of the U.S.

He said in a statement: “Afghanistan and the United States are strategic allies and friends. Combating extremism and efforts to bring peace and stability are the top priorities of both countries.”

“With Mr Trump’s victory, the chief executive of Afghanistan expects the strength and expansion of strategic economic, military, social and cultural cooperation between the two countries,” he added.

He also wished Trump “good luck”.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Trump a telegram congratulating him.

The State Duma in the former Soviet Union also reportedly broke into thunderous applause upon news of Hillary Clinton’s defeat on Wednesday morning.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, Putting expressed “his hope to work together for removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state”.

Putin also said he had confidence in “building a constructive dialogue between Moscow and Washington that is based on principles of equality, mutual respect and a real accounting of each other’s positions, in the interests of our peoples and the world community”.

Reuters reported that French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Europe must not flinch in defending its interests and people now that Trump’s election win has added to the uncertainty created by Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.

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