President Trump during a meeting with Afghanistan’s president on Thursday touted the “great progress” in the conflict there as the U.S. prepares to send more troops.
“We are working very well together, we are working very hard,” Trump said. “Our military is as you know over there right now and doing really an incredible job, more of leadership than fighting. We are leading a lot of wonderful Afghan troops who are fighting very hard … and great progress is being made.”
Still, sitting next to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the United Nations, Trump described Afghanistan as a “hornet’s nest” for terror groups in comments one day after the Pentagon announced it will be sending 3,000 additional U.S. troops to the country.
“People don’t realize you had 20 terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” Trump said. “This is where the World Trade Center people, I’ll call them people, were trained. This is what happened. You had 20 groups, more than any place else. It’s really a hornet’s nest from that standpoint. We are hitting them very, very hard and very effectively. We really have no choice but to do it.”
Ghani praised U.S. efforts and said there has been “an immense change on the ground.”
“Victory — political and military-wise — is within our sight,” Ghani said.
“It’s a difference of day and night,” he added. “The cloud of uncertainty has been lifted.”
Ghani stressed that he “does not ask for a blank check,” vowing that his country would not squander U.S. resources and that it would hold itself accountable for achieving a positive outcome.
“We are determined to do what is ours,” he said.
Ghani noted that many U.S. soldiers had made the “ultimate sacrifice,” which he said “can now result in a stable Afghanistan.”
Trump added that “it is important to understand that the Afghan soldiers are doing the fighting.”
“We are training and we’re working with them very closely, but it is the Afghans who are doing the fighting,” Trump said. “I’ve also heard not only this morning but over the last few weeks that the spirit is tremendous of the Afghan forces and of the American forces. Rules of engagement are now different than they were. And we’re able to do the job.”