Afghanistan has demanded a clarification on Tuesday of President Donald Trump’s comments a day earlier that he could have had the country “wiped off the face of the earth” but did not “want to kill 10 million people.”
President Trump made the comments Monday during an Oval Office meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. The president said he was referring to prepared military plans for Afghanistan, adding, “I could win that war in a week.”
“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,” Trump told reporters. “It would be over in – literally, in 10 days. And I don’t want to do, I don’t want to go that route.”
The President’s remarks drew a strict response from Afghanistan’s leadership, which has been excluded from talks between the US and the Taliban.
During a meeting in Kabul between the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Afghan officials said President Trump’s comments were “unacceptable,” given the relationship between the US and Afghanistan.
Afghan officials also told Khalilzad that PreaisentTrump should show more respect for Ghani’s leadership. The State Department declined to comment.
“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.
A spokesman for the Taliban also condemned President Trump’s remarks as “irresponsible,” Al Jazeera reported.
“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.”
A record 3,804 Afghan civilians were killed last year due in part to stepped-up air attacks by US-led forces and an increased number of suicide bombings, the United Nations said in a February report.
“While the Afghan government supports the US efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership,” Afghan officials said when calling for clarification of President Trump’s statement.