Taliban tells new U.S. President Trump to quit Afghanistan


 Reuters International

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban has called on President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. forces from the "quagmire" of Afghanistan, saying that nothing has been achieved in 15 years of war except bloodshed and destruction.

In an open letter to the new U.S. president published on one of its official web pages, the insurgent movement said the United States had lost credibility after spending a trillion dollars on a fruitless entanglement.

"So, the responsibility to bring to an end this war also rests on your shoulders," it said.

So far, Trump has had little to say publicly about Afghanistan, where some 8,400 U.S. troops remain as part of the NATO-led coalition's training mission to support local forces as well as a separate U.S. counter-terrorism mission.

Two of his top security appointments - retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as Secretary of Defence and former General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser - both have extensive experience in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, however, warned Trump against relying on the kind of "unrealistic" reports presented to former presidents by their generals, saying: "They would emphasise continuation of war and occupation of Afghanistan because they can have better positions and privileges in war."

The United States would not accept foreign forces on its territory or even in a neighbouring country, said the Taliban. It accused Washington of imposing a "surrogate administration" on Afghanistan in the face of popular Muslim resistance.

"You have to realise that the Afghan Muslim nation has risen up against foreign occupation," it said.

The Taliban has made steady inroads against the Western-backed government in Kabul since coalition forces ended their main combat mission in 2014, with government forces now in control of only two thirds of the country.

It has repeatedly urged the United States and its allies to leave Afghanistan, ruling out peace talks with the Kabul government while foreign forces remain on Afghan soil.

Trump has sharply criticised past U.S. administrations for their handling of conflicts in the Muslim world but he has also pledged to eradicate militant Islamists around the globe.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Reuters

 Reuters International