US President Donald Trump has decided to pull a significant number of troops from Afghanistan, a US official told AFP on Thursday, with the Afghan presidency brushing off concerns the drawdown would affect security. Reports suggested as many as half of the 14,000 troops in the war-torn country could be leaving. The surprise move stunned and dismayed foreign diplomats and officials in Kabul who are involved in an intensifying push to end the 17-year conflict with the Taliban, which already controls vast amounts of territory and is causing “unsustainable” Afghan troop casualties. “If you’re the Taliban, Christmas has come early,” a senior foreign official in the Afghan capital told AFP on the condition of anonymity. “Would you be thinking of a ceasefire if your main opponent has just withdrawn half their troops?” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid would not comment about the troop withdrawal when contacted by AFP. But a senior Taliban commander welcomed the decision. “Frankly speaking we weren’t expecting that immediate US response,” the official told AFP from an unknown location in northwest Pakistan. “We are more than happy, they realised the truth. We are expecting more good news.” It is not clear if US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad… Read full this story
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