WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week, but that he doesn’t want to kill millions of people and wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the earth.”
He’s trying to persuade Pakistan to help get a deal with the Taliban that would end America’s longest war.
“I could win that war in a week” but “I don’t want to kill millions of people,” Trump said.
Afghanistan is high on Trump’s agenda as he meets with Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan. Their testy relationship may be improving. Trump says Pakistan can use its influence with the Taliban to help the U.S. “extricate” from Afghanistan.
Pakistan, which is suffering economically, wants to reset relations with the U.S. in hopes of securing more investment, trade and possibly a restoration of American aid that Trump cut.
Khan said he’s never believed that there was a military solution to the war. He said he thinks the U.S. and the Taliban are closer to a peace deal than ever before.
Trump and Khan — a former sports star — are both unpredictable and their relationship has been rocky. Monday’s visit was meant to smooth tensions and address complex problems facing both nations.
In recent years relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have resembled a yo-yo. They reached rock bottom under former President Barack Obama when the U.S. carried out the raid on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan without giving Islamabad a heads-up. The relationship didn’t improve when Trump took office.
In November 2018, Trump tweeted: “We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another.”
That statement created a furor in Islamabad.
Khan, the former captain of the Pakistani cricket team who assumed office last fall, fired back.
He tweeted that Pakistan has suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the “US War on Terror,” despite the fact that no Pakistanis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. He says the U.S. has only provided a “minuscule” $20 billion in aid.
Both countries are trying to smooth tensions.
By DEB RIECHMANN Associated Press