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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Trump and US troop reductions

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Trump and US troop reductions
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Afghan’s President Ashraf Ghani addresses US troops during a surprise Thanksgiving day visit of US President Donald Trump at Bagram Air Field, on November 28, 2019 in Afghanistan.


Afghanistan’s president this week told CNBC he has “no problems” dealing with President Donald Trump, amid talk of a reduction in the number of U.S. troops operating in the Central Asian country.

“I am one of the few leaders that has an excellent relationship” with Trump, Ashraf Ghani told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“I have no problems dealing with President Trump,” he said, while discussing whether the United States is leaving the region behind. “I frame my relationship in terms of priorities that he’s promised the American people … the question is how do we find common ground, and where is common ground, to be able to move forward?”

His comments come weeks after reports that the Trump administration plans to announce a drawdown of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan. A former U.S. defense official told NBC News that the announcement would be “part of trying to reset talks with the Taliban.”

Trump has long criticized the war in Afghanistan and pushed for a reduction in American forces in the country.

“His style is disruptive, meaning that when the status quo reaches a point where it does not produce the results that he wants, he engages in disruptive change,” Ghani said.

‘No material impact’

A decrease in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will not have a big effect on the country, he predicted.

“A decrease, at this moment, will have no material impact on our capacity and our willingness to ensure moving forward,” he said.

He noted that, compared to five years ago, the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan now is small.

“All the predictions were of gloom and doom. We will collapse — we didn’t,” he said. “The Afghan security forces have emerged (as) a significant force.”

“Security is a problem, no one can say that it is not. But the direction is the right direction,” he said.

When asked if he anticipates a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country in the next decade, Ghani said “of course,” but added that uncertainty is “the norm” and “a single course of action is just not feasible.”

Taliban reintegration

Ghani also discussed the future of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Taliban controls almost half of Afghanistan and has claimed responsibility for attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces in recent years. “The billion-dollar question is — are the Taliban ready to see the end of violence?” Ghani asked. “If they are, the Afghan society is willing to reintegrate them.”

“But if they see peace as a Trojan horse to overthrow the government and the society, then the society and the government would mobilize,” he added.

“Our security is not the responsibility of the United States. It’s our own responsibility,” he said. “We need to be able to secure our future.”

— CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this report.

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