The president of the United States, Donald Trump, renewed his promise on Tuesday to negotiate a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, saying he did not want to kill “hundreds of thousands” in endless fighting.
In one of his few foreign policy points in a very partisan speech by the State of the Union to Congress, Trump offered his blessing for the ongoing negotiations with Taliban militants.
“I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them totally innocent,” Trump said in the joint session of Congress.
“Nor is it our function to serve other nations as a law enforcement agency. These are war fighters, the best in the world, and they want to fight to win or not to fight at all, ”he said.
“We are working to finally end the longest war in the United States and bring our troops back home.”
Trump has long questioned the wisdom of keeping troops abroad and has described the war in Afghanistan started after the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a leak of blood and treasures.
But last year he said abruptly that he had canceled a summit not previously announced at the Camp David presidential retreat with the Taliban due to an attack that killed an American.
He later allowed veteran US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad to resume talks, which had taken place for months in Qatar.
Under a draft agreement, the United States will withdraw troops and the Taliban will commit to not allowing extremists to use Afghanistan as a base, as well as to engage in talks with the internationally recognized government in Kabul.
– Little foreign approach –
Trump spoke loudly before the leftist leader of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, inviting his rival Juan Guaidó to watch the speech from the gallery.
But his speech focused little on foreign policy, not to mention North Korea, a year after Trump used the State of the Union to announce his second summit with the leader of the state with nuclear weapons, Kim Jong Un.
Trump only briefly mentioned his pro-Israel plan for the Middle East, which he announced last week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after more than a year late.
In Iran, Trump highlighted his campaign of pressure against the clerical regime and boasted of the controversial attack he ordered last month that killed Iran’s best-known general, Qassem Soleimani.
“Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very badly,” Trump said.
“We can help them to be very good in a short period of time, but they may be too proud or too dumb to ask for that help.”
Trump in 2018 withdrew from an internationally backed nuclear agreement negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama, and imposed radical sanctions aimed at reducing Iran’s regional influence.