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Esper ‘not using the withdraw word’ for Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper holds a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on August 28, 2019. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says it is "premature" to talk about  US withdrawal from Afghanistan just yet.

He made the comments at a news conference at the Pentagon alongside US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford on Wednesday.

"I think it's premature. I'm not using the withdraw word right now,” said the Pentagon chief. “I'm using, we're gonna make sure that Afghanistan is not a sanctuary, and we're gonna try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan."

This is while President Donald Trump had promised to end the US longest war just like his predecessor, Barack Obama.

"We have enduring security interests in the region, diplomatic interests in the region, and economic interests in the region. And the form of our presence, to advance our interests in those areas is going to change over time. And so any discussion about capability is going to be benchmarked against the threat,” General Dunford stated.

“But as importantly against the capacity of our partners in Afghanistan to deal with that threat. So could we talk conceptually about a time in a future when the Afghan security forces can deal with security in their country by themselves? You can. But we're not prepared to have a specific conversation about when that may be or what capability would be associated with what operating environment. "

The US has been in talks with the Taliban almost 18 years after the US invaded Afghanistan to overthrow a ruling Taliban regime.

The exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan has been a condition set by the Taliban to extend the talks.


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