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Trump unveils new Afghanistan plan, warning against rapid exit

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-22 19:28

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump unveiled his new Afghanistan strategy Monday night in a national address, calling a rapid exit of the US troops from Afghanistan "unacceptable" and pledging a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.


Trump delivered a prime-time nationally televised address at 9 pm local time on Monday (0100 GMT, Tuesday) from Fort Myer in Virginia.

In this over 30-minute speech, Trump ruled out a quick exit of the US troops, saying that a "nasty withdrawal" would have unacceptable consequences and "create a vacuum" that terrorists including the Islamic State and al-Qaida would instantly fill.

He said that the Untied States have been facing "immense" security threats in Afghanistan and the broader region, which made him stop following his "original instinct" to "pull out" the troops.

As a long-time critic of US strategy in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, Trump ordered a review of the strategy soon after taking office in January.

During his speech, Trump also made it clear that he would not "talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities."

Ahead of Trump's speech, US media expected the US president to authorize the deployment of up to 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

US government officials have reportedly said that Trump had agreed on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' plans to send about 4,000 more troops in Afghanistan.

Currently, there are about 8,400 US troops and another 5,000 forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the ground in Afghanistan to train and assist the Afghan forces against the Taliban, and conduct counter-terrorism missions against groups such as the Islamic State.

In the speech, Trump said it was counter-productive for the United States to "announce in advance the dates we intend to begin, or end, military options."

However, the new strategy would shift from "a time-based" approach to one based on conditions on the ground, he said.

Trump outlined the pillars of his strategy, saying that the United States was not about nation-building but focusing on "killing terrorists."

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