US President Donald Trump has said in an interview with Fox News Radio that Washington will have to prolong the US presence in Afghanistan, even after the peace agreement with the Taliban is concluded.
"Oh yeah, you have to keep a presence. We're going to keep a presence there. We're reducing that presence very substantially and we're going to always have a presence. We're going to have high intelligence", Trump told Fox News Radio. "If they ever did anything from Afghanistan, we will come back with a force they have never seen before."
According to President Trump, the size of the US contingent in the Central Asian country will first fall to 8,600 troops.
"We will go down to 8,600, and then we will make a determination from there as to what happens", Trump said.
The statement comes as US and Taliban representatives are engaged in peace talks on an Afghanistan peace deal in Doha, Qatar.
Despite having nine rounds of talks since last year, all the negotiations notably excluded the Afghan authorities as the Taliban regards the administration in Kabul as an illegitimate puppet government.
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow was ready to offer its assistance in the US-Taliban talks and act as a guarantor, should such a proposal be received.
Afghanistan is suffering from an unstable political, social and security situation due to the activity of the Taliban and Daesh* terrorist group. The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces regularly conduct joint offensive operations to combat terrorism across the country with support from the international coalition.
In February, the New York Times reported that a new Defence Department proposal for the peace talks with the Taliban called for all US troops - about 14,000 - to be withdrawn in the next three to five years along with the rest of the international force.
* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia