Washington (CNN) – Afghanistan has demanded the United States clarify remarks made by President Donald Trump, who said the country “would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he wanted to win the war in Afghanistan.”
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.”
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.”
The US 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.
Despite the breakthrough, attacks have continued since then, including a suicide bombing at a wedding, a car bombing outside Afghanistan’s Kandahar City police headquarters, and a deadly explosion outside the gates of Kabul University.
The US is hoping Pakistan can help push the Taliban to directly meet with the Afghan government.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the US 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.
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.