President Trump says getting close to new Afghan strategy


WASHINGTON, Aug 11 (TNS): President Trump on Thursday said that he was getting closer to a new Afghan policy amid criticism over a delay in taking a decision that has even caught US and Afghan military commanders by surprise, media reports said.

Influential Republican Senator and Chairman of the  Senate’s Armed Services Committee, John McCain, apparently having lost patience over the delayed announcement of the policy, unveiled his own strategy on Afghanistan which, he said, he would present in Senate in September as an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill.

A media report by Politico online magazine in a separate report on Thursday said that US and Afghan military commanders were surprised over the time President Trump was taking to announce the new US strategy in Afghanistan at a time when the war-torn country was witnessing deteriorating security situation.

President Trump, speaking to reporters at his golf club in the state of New Jersey said: “We’re getting close. We’re getting very close”. Criticizing the Afghan policy of his predecessor, the President said that he took over a “mess” and that his administration was going to “make it a lot less messy”. He said Afghan policy was a big decision for him.

President Trump is unhappy over the prolonged war in Afghanistan which  he said has failed to produce result even in its 16 years. According to media reports, President Trump in a recent meeting even suggested to his military commanders to replace the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Nicholson, according to media reports.

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told a press briefing on  Thursday that the Afghan Policy Review was still underway and that there had been a lot of conversations and negotiations with the President’s national security team that also involved US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“We are looking at this as not just a solution to Afghanistan, but  also a broader concern that incorporates India and Pakistan as well as a regional solution,” the spokesperson said adding that plan was not ready yet that will be rolled out by the White House.

Senator McCain said he was announcing his own Afghan policy because the  Trump administration was not coming up with one. His proposals include increasing US air support to Afghan forces and US ground troops for counterterrorism missions against the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The Senator said he would present his plan as an amendment to the annual  defense authorization bill upon his return in September after a treatment for his brain tumor that was recently diagnosed.