Washington: President Donald Trump said he could end America's longest-running war "in a week," except that it would cost too many lives.
Trump complained that the nearly 18-year US campaign in Afghanistan is "ridiculous" on Monday in a White House meeting with Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan. He said he could "win" the conflict, in which the US is trying to help Afghanistan's government reclaim control of the country from militant groups, including the Taliban and Islamic State, "in a week," but that 10 million people would die.
"I don't want to go that route," Trump said. "Basically, we're policemen right now."
Afghanistan has asked for 'clarity and explanations' from the US regarding Trump's comments. 'The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,' according to a statement released Tuesday from the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
The US opened a new round of talks with the Taliban last month aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The talks between the US and Taliban have taken on greater urgency as Afghanistan heads for presidential elections on September 28. It's not clear whether the militant group will agree to participate in the elections after a possible peace deal. The Taliban had suggested forming an interim government following a deal but the idea was refused by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Before the meeting, a senior administration official said that Trump would also demand that Pakistan's government free Shakil Afridi, a physician imprisoned after helping the US government locate and kill Osama bin Laden, the official said. The Trump administration will judge Pakistan in part on its treatment of Afridi, the official said.
"I've been looking forward to this meeting since I assumed office," Khan said at the White House.
Trump suspended security aid for Pakistan in January 2018, alleging the country's government doesn't do enough to combat terrorist groups. The official said that aid would only be restored if Pakistan satisfies US concerns about its support for both the Taliban and groups alleged to have engaged in terrorism in India.
"Pakistan was not doing anything for us" and was working against the US, Trump said. "All of that can come back" depending on talks with Khan, he said.