The U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated on Tuesday that if an agreement has reached in peace talks with the Taliban, he would pullout American troops from Afghanistan.
Trump said in his annual State of the Union that his administration has accelerated talks with groups to reach into a political settlement in Afghanistan, including with the Taliban.
“We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace,” he said.
Trump also pledged in his speech to Congress that he would reduce the current 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. After losing more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers and spending more than $900 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.
“As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. And we will indeed focus on counter-terrorism,” he said.
“Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded,” he said.
Trump also said that when he campaigned for president in 2016, he wanted to focus more on domestic issues than foreign conflicts.
“Great nations do not fight endless wars…,” he said,” Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.
“When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers,” he added.
Trump also noted that now, they are working with their allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS. “It is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home,” he said.
This comes as the Republican-led U.S. Senate backed largely symbolic legislation on Monday that broke with Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.