Statement claims president-elect has assured Afghanistan of continued security assistance during his administration.
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has assured Afghanistan’s leader in a phone call that his administration stands ready to increase support to the country if necessary, a Kabul statement said on Saturday.
“If Afghanistan needs more security assistance, his administration, after assessing the needs, will focus on providing more security support,” the statement released by President Ashraf Ghani’s office read.
The statement cited a phone call between Trump and Ghani on Friday, the first official communication between the two since Trump’s Nov. 8 election. “President-elect Trump praised the Afghan forces’ defense of Afghanistan and its people and emphasized that the U.S. will continue to remain with the government and people of Afghanistan during his term,” it said.
Fifteen years and hundreds of billions of dollars after the U.S. led an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the security situation in the country remains unstable.
Afghan police and army units took over providing security for Afghanistan from NATO in 2015. Their first year was something of a disaster, when they sustained more than 5,000 fatalities and saw the regional capital Kunduz briefly captured by the Taliban.
Around 8,400 U.S. and NATO troops are still engaged in assisting Afghan forces in the war against a resurgent Taliban militancy. During the recent U.S. election however, Afghanistan got scarcely a passing mention at debates between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, the situation there will be an urgent matter for the new president.
On Friday, the chief U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson said the Afghan forces had lost control of a small percentage of terrain they previously held. Additionally, Islamic State group fighters have been trying to expand their presence in Afghanistan, winning over sympathizers, recruiting followers and challenging the Taliban on their own turf.