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Pompeo terms pullout plan a tactical change

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Friday that the plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria was a “tactical change” that does not affect the mission to defeat terrorism.

In a series of tweets from Islamabad, US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad noted that “many are concerned the United States is willing to both talk and fight” with the Taliban.

“Let me be clear: the US wants peace,” wrote Mr Khal­ilzad, indicating that he saw no dichotomy in the two positions

“To achieve peace, we are ready to address legitimate concerns of all Afghan sides in a process that ensures Afghan independence and sovereignty, and accounts for legitimate interests of regional states,” he wrote. “Urgent that fighting end. But pursuing peace still means we fight as needed.”

In an interview to Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of America’s largest media conglomerates, Secretary Pom­peo pointed out that the “war against terror” was a long struggle and America wants to stay engaged in this struggle with support from the rest of the international community.

“A tactical change in one place or another, adding a few soldiers, taking some soldiers down, these are tactical changes. They don’t change the mission set,” he said.

Secretary Pompeo disagreed with a suggestion that Pres­ident Donald Trump’s recent declaration that he was ready to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan indicated a reduction in his commitment to fight terrorism.

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