'Situation in Afghanistan Remains Tense': Putin
Russia President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday held a meeting with the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states and said that “the situation in Afghanistan remains tense,” IBG news reported.
“To reiterate, the security situation in Eurasia and neighbouring regions still requires special attention on the part of the SCO,” Putting said, adding that “the situation in Afghanistan remains tense, and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa continue unabated. Terrorism poses a serious threat, and drug trafficking, organised crime and cybercrime are on the rise.”
The participants in the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting plan to discuss a broad range of issues on the further development of cooperation in the political, economic and social areas, and discuss urgent international and regional problems.
“The organisation plays a major role in ensuring peace and security, as well as sustainable development in Eurasia,” Putin said. “Acting on the principles of equality and mutual consideration for everyone’s interests, we strive to conduct a joint search for ways of resolving today’s global challenges and we maintain close foreign policy coordination, including in the UN and other international venues.”
This comes as the US plans to pull thousands of troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by November, the top American commander for the Middle East said Wednesday, as President Donald Trump tries to make good on his campaign promise to get America out of “endless wars,” AP reported.
During a visit to Iraq, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, said the reduction in Iraq — from about 5,200 troops to about 3,000 — reflects the Trump administration’s confidence in the ability of US-trained Iraqi security forces to handle the militant threat from the Daesh group.
Later, McKenzie said troop levels in Afghanistan would drop to 4,500 by November. He made the statement in a telephone call with a small group of reporters, according to officials at his Central Command office.
“We’re on a glide slope to be at 4,500 by the November time frame — October, late October, November time frame,” he said, according to a transcript made available by his office. He said the path to 4,500 would be determined in part by the military’s ability to get equipment out of the country.
The US presidential election is Nov. 3.
The US had reduced its presence in Afghanistan to 8,600 in June, and it was known that more reductions were planned, although McKenzie had not previously cited a projected number. He gave no exact date for reaching the 4,500 level; he said a specific date has been targeted but he would not reveal it.
US forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001 when they invaded in response to the 9/11 attacks planned by al-Qaida, the militant group that enjoy refuge while the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.