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Trump: the US is working with Pakistan to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump, speaking at a White House meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said on Monday the United States is working with Islamabad to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan.
Trump held out the possibility of restoring U.S. aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in trying to ease strained ties with India.
Khan told Trump there was only one solution for Afghanistan and that a peace deal with the Taliban was closer than it had ever been. He said he hoped in the coming days to be able to urge the Taliban to continue the talks.
The United States views Pakistan's cooperation with a deal to end the 17-year-old war as essential but the two countries have a complicated relationship.
Trump wants to wrap up U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and sees Pakistan's cooperation as crucial to any deal to end the war and ensure the country does not become a base for militant groups like Islamic State.
Washington wants Islamabad to pressure Afghanistan's Taliban into a permanent ceasefire and participation in talks with the Afghan government.
Trump last year slashed millions of dollars of security assistance to Islamabad, which it accused of serving as a safe haven for militants. Pakistan has denied the accusations.
U.S. President Donald Trump greets Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 22, 2019. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Authorities in Pakistan last week arrested Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of a 2008 militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai who has been designated a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations. More than 160 people were killed in the four-day siege.
But Pakistan has not released Shakil Afridi, the jailed doctor believed to have helped the CIA track down former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whose organization was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
India, which in February came close to war with Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir and which accuses Islamabad of supporting militants, will be watching the talks in Washington closely.
The Pentagon said Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, will meet later on Monday with the top American military officer, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.
Analysts believe Bajwa will play a key role in behind-the-scenes discussions in which much of the serious business of the visit will take place, with the military looking to persuade Washington to restore aid and cooperation.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.