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Iran Press TV

Trump unveils new strategy to prolong military presence in Afghanistan

Iran Press TV

Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:32AM

US President Donald Trump has unveiled his administration's new strategy in Afghanistan, saying he would prolong the military intervention in the South Asian country, which he once described as a "complete waste."

"My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office," Trump said in a nationally televised speech Monday night before a military audience at Fort Myer.

The US president described his decision to continue the US military intervention, albeit with conditions.

"Our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The American people expect to see real reforms and real results."

Trump, however, did not provide details about an exact number of troops or the exact cost of his decision. The White House has given the Pentagon authority to deploy another 4,000 more troops on top of the 8,400 already in the country.

Trump's willingness to further commit to the war in Afghanistan, rather than withdraw, represents a significant shift in his approach since taking office. As a candidate, Trump denounced the US military intervention there as a "total disaster" which drained resources at a time of more pressing needs at home.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the president said Washington can no longer remain silent towards Pakistan's "safe havens for terrorists."

He was referring to the Taliban and other groups posing a threat to the region and beyond during a prime time address to the nation on Monday, in which he elaborated on a new US strategy towards Afghanistan.

"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations," Trump declared. "Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists."

The commander in chief tacitly threatened Islamabad to cut the "billions and billions of dollars" the US pays Pakistan in aid.

"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting," he said. "That will have to change and that will change immediately… It is time for Pakistan to dedicate to civilization and order and peace."

US support no 'blank check'

Trump also indicated that Washington could stop supporting the Afghan government if it does not show "determination" in its efforts.

"America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress," Trump said. "However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The American people expect to see real reforms and real results."

Victory in Afghanistan would mean "attacking our enemies," and "obliterating" the Daesh Takfiri group. He also vowed to crush al-Qaeda, prevent the Taliban from taking over the country.

The United States -- under Republican George W. Bush's presidency -- and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington's so-called war on terror.

Trump who had previously called for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan argued that his "original instinct was to pull out," but that he was convinced by his national security team to take on the Taliban militants.

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