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The Afghanistan government requested Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump explain his boast of terminating the Afghan war in 10 days by wiping out Afghanistan and its 10 million residents.

“The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesperson for the President of Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The statement said: “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 statement said: “The government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership.”

The strong Afghan response comes after Trump, following a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday, said that Pakistan could help broker a political settlement to end the nearly 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

“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 Imran Khan at the White House. “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.”

Fallout from the U.S. President’s remarks rippled through a tense and confrontational meeting in Kabul between the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

During the meeting, Afghan officials said Trump’s comments were “unacceptable”, given the relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

Afghan officials also told Khalilzad that Trump should show more respect for Ghani’s leadership. The State Department declined to comment.

The U.S. has been pursuing a diplomatic strategy to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan, holding on-again, off-again talks with the Taliban in Qatar to reach a peace deal. Earlier this month, a group of prominent Afghans – including some Afghan government officials acting in a personal capacity — held two days of joint talks with the Taliban, unofficially agreeing on a roadmap on how they might reach a peace deal.

Afghanistan government has been excluded from talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of supporting the insurgency.

After the September 11 attacks in New York City, the U.S. government invaded Afghanistan as part of the so-called “war on terror”, with the objective to dismantle Al-Qaeda by removing the Taliban from power.

The U.S. is hoping Pakistan can help push the Taliban to directly meet with the Afghan government.

Khalilzad’s visit began just hours after Trump’s comments. He announced his arrival on Twitter Tuesday and said that he was there to focus on “achieving an enduring peace that ends the war, ensures terrorists do not use Afghanistan to threaten the US, honors the sacrifices that US, our allies & Afghans made, and cements an enduring relationship w/ Afghanistan.”

Afghan officials have also been concerned about the role that Pakistan has played in the peace negotiations with the Taliban.

While Trump described Pakistan as a helpful force in pushing ahead the peace process with the Taliban during his press appearance with Khan, that is not how Afghanis view Pakistan’s influence.

The Afghan government sees Pakistan as harboring and supporting terrorism in Afghanistan, including its support for the Taliban.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the U.S. is prepared to remove American troops from Afghanistan, but has not agreed on a timeline.

Pompeo said he “hopes” a deal will be reached by September 1, ahead of the Afghan presidential elections later that month.

The Afghan government was the second country since Monday to push back against Trump’s remarks made during that Oval Office meeting with Khan.

Trump had claimed that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally asked him if he would like to be a mediator in the decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region.

A spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, denied Trump’s claim, saying on Twitter that “no such request has been made” by Modi.


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