Donald Trump reviews Afghanistan policy

Donald Trump reviews Afghanistan policy

U.S. President Donald Trump reviewed an array of options for a strategy on Afghanistan with his top national security aides, but made no decision on whether he would commit more troops to America's longest war.

Friday's meeting was the latest in a series of high-level discussions on Afghanistan and a broader security strategy for the South Asia region that has been bogged down by internal differences.

Trump was briefed extensively "on a new strategy to protect America's interests in South Asia", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, after the meeting at the Camp David Maryland retreat.

"The president is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time," Sanders said.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top national security officials went into the meeting backing a modest increase in troops. At a mid-July meeting, they had thrown their weight behind 3,000 to 5,000 additional U.S. and coalition soldiers.

“Anti-globalists,” who were led by Steve Bannon before he was fired on Friday as Trump's chief strategist, backed withdrawing U.S. forces, U.S. officials said.

Other options which were to be discussed included keeping the status quo of some 8,400 U.S. troops, a modest hike, or a small reduction that would focus on counter-terrorism operations enhanced by drone strikes and intelligence-gathering, they said.

A U.S. official said that during a trip to Afghanistan earlier this year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the United States would have a sustained commitment to Afghanistan.

More than 15 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Islamist Taliban government for giving al Qaeda a sanctuary where it plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, there is no sign to an end in fighting.

U.S. intelligence agencies assessed in May that the conditions in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through next year, even with a modest increase in military assistance from America and its allies.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican and advocate of a stronger U.S. role in Afghanistan, urged Trump in a statement to "listen to his generals. At the end of the day, Afghanistan is about American homeland security - not building empires."