US will keep strong intel presence in Afghanistan even after troops withdrawal: Trump

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jul 02, 2019, 06.27 AM(IST)

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( Reuters )

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About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.

The United States President Donald Trump on Monday said he will leave a strong intelligence presence in Afghanistan even after US troops depart from the country. He also termed the country "Harvard of terrorists" while he was speaking in a video interview.

"We will be leaving very strong intelligence, far more than you would normally think," Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

"It just seems to be a lab for terrorists... I call it the Harvard of terrorists," he said.

"I've wanted to pull them out," Trump said of US troops who have been fighting in the country since 2001.

But he said he hesitates due what he described as advice from the military that it is preferable to fight terrorists there than at home -- echoing an argument advanced by George W Bush's administration.

Trump's comments come with rival Afghans set to start meeting in Qatar on Sunday in a fresh attempt to make political headway as the United States seeks a peace deal with the Taliban within three months.

After Syria, Donald Trump in December last year announced to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. 

Following Trump's announcement, Pentagon had also announced the withdrawal of around 7,000 troops from Afghanistan which amounts to the removal of half of the total US forces deployed in the country at present. So far no timeline has been fixed 

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some US forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

Watch: Why is Afghanistan a fertile ground for ISIS?

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to the United Nations. Thousands of Afghan soldiers, police and Taliban were also killed.

(With inputs from news agencies)

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