U.S. President to Meet Top Security Officials on Afghanistan

(Last Updated On: August 17, 2019)

The U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his top national security advisers on Friday to review a US-Taliban peace plan that could end America’s longest war in Afghanistan, CNN reported.

According to two sources familiar with the planning, CNN reported that Trump is expected to meet at his Bedminster golf resort with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

Several defense officials have told CNN that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford are expected to be present.

CNN quotes two other sources saying that the major topic will be Afghanistan and the plan that Taliban negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been working on for months to end the conflict in the war-weary country.

According to the multiple sources familiar with the plan, the report said that the peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan — from about 15,000 troops to 8,000 or 9,000 troops — and enshrine official commitments by the Taliban to counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad has held at least eight rounds of negotiations with the Taliban delegation in Qatar that he said the last round of talks was “productive” as the two sides had focused on technical details.

“Over the last few days, the sides (the U.S. and Taliban representatives) focused on technical details,” Khalilzad said. “They were productive. I am on my way back to DC to consult on next steps.”

Meanwhile, Khalilzad has shared the details of expected peace agreement with President Ghani before the beginning of the eighth round of US-Taliban talks in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

Last week, the Newsweek magazine reported that the U.S.-led operations against the militant group in Afghanistan have significantly reduced or halted as the Pentagon continues to plan for a potential withdrawal of thousands of U.S. forces from its longest conflict ever.

The U.S. personnel have been ordered to limit nearly all offensive combat operations against the Taliban and cease advising the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as the Trump administration proposes cutting U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan by nearly half to 6,000 as a means of finalizing “technical” details among Taliban leadership, senior Pentagon officials quoted by the Newsweek.

However, the U.S. military in Afghanistan has rejected the reports of limitations in the U.S. operations against the militants in the country.

 A spokesman for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Sonny Leggett said that no changes have been brought to the U.S.’s mission in Afghanistan.

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