Germany ‘concerned’ about US withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan: Minister

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Germany is worried about how the US decision to slash troop levels in Afghanistan could affect the bid to find peace in the country, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday.

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“We are particularly concerned over what the US announcement could mean for the continuation of peace talks in Afghanistan,” Maas said, adding that “we should not create additional hurdles -- something that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would most certainly lead to.”

President Donald Trump will sharply reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday, stopping short of a threatened full withdrawal from America’s longest war after fierce opposition from allies at home and abroad.

US President Donald Trump makes an unannounced visit to US troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. (Reuters)
US President Donald Trump makes an unannounced visit to US troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Trump’s decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday but still triggered a rebuke from senior Republicans and Democrats who fear it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taliban.

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who Trump installed last week after abruptly firing Mark Esper, confirmed the Afghan drawdown and also outlined a modest withdrawal of forces from Iraq to reduce troop levels from 3,000 to 2,500.

“By Jan. 15, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan, will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same date,” Miller told reporters.

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