Afghanistan has demanded the United States clarify remarks made by President Donald Trump.
The US president who stated that the country “would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he wanted to win the war in Afghanistan has been asked to explain the statement.
Fallout from the President’s remarks rippled through a tense and confrontational meeting in Kabul between the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, according to two sources familiar with their conversation.
During the meeting, Afghan officials said Trump’s comments were “unacceptable,” given the relationship between the US and Afghanistan. At one point in his Oval Office remarks, Trump referred to dropping America’s largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan in 2017, and said that dropping more of them would be the “easy solution” to ending the conflict there.
Afghan officials also told Khalilzad that Trump should show more respect for Ghani’s leadership. The State Department declined to comment, but previously unplanned follow-up meetings will take place in Kabul on Wednesday.
Publicly, Afghan officials were equally scathing.
“The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the President of Afghanistan, said in a statement. “Given the multifaceted relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for clarification on the US President’s statements.”
The President’s comments also drew condemnation from the Taliban, marking a rare topic of agreement for the insurgent group and the Afghan government.
Trump on Monday had suggested that he could put an end to the Afghanistan war in a week, but that it would cost millions of lives and wipe the country “off the face of the Earth.”
“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said, seated beside Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday. “I have plans on Afghanistan, that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days, and I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route.”
A spokesman for the Taliban — a group the State Department says is responsible for beheadings, amputations, stonings and civilian casualties — condemned Trump’s remarks as “irresponsible.”
“Trump’s policy that he does not want to play the role of a police officer in Afghanistan and that this war against an entire nation cannot be won so long as they are alive is something positive,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. “However, his claim that he can wipe out Afghanistan, kill 10 million Afghans and win this war through such a method is irresponsible and we condemn it in the strongest terms.”
The spokesman went on to criticize the US’ ongoing military presence in Afghanistan, referring to a bomb that Trump mentioned during his appearance with Khan. The US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal — the “mother of all bombs” — on Afghanistan in April 2017.