US security chief vows ′no safe havens for terrorists in Afghanistan′ | News | DW | 16.04.2017
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US security chief vows 'no safe havens for terrorists in Afghanistan'

US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials. The visit comes just days after the US dropped an 11-ton MOAB bomb on a mountain hideout for militants.

US President Donald Trump's national security adviser met with top Afghan officials in Kabul Sunday, amid questions about what military role the new US administration plans to play in the embattled south Asian country.

McMaster met Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of Afghanistan and President Ashraf Ghani among other top Afghan officials. They discussed bilateral relations, security, counter-terrorism, reforms and development, according to a statement on the palace's Twitter account.

"As a result of joint Afghan and international forces efforts, no safe havens will be left for terrorists in Afghanistan," McMaster was quoted as saying in a readout that gave few clues to the Trump administration's future course of action in the country.

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36 'IS' militants killed in US bombing, says Kabul

The visit by McMaster, the first by a high-level Trump official, comes just days after the US military used its largest non-nuclear bomb – a Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB - for the first time ever in combat. The bomb struck a warren of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State (IS) militants in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

The blast killed more than 90 IS militants, but raised questions about what role Trump sees for the US military in Afghanistan, and whether the bomb was intended to send a message to US adversaries elsewhere.

The long war

Ghani issued a statement saying terrorism is a serious threat to security and stability in the region and the world. He warned that if it's not defeated, it could affect the lives of future generations.

US-led NATO troops have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

There is speculation that Trump's defense advisers are planning to escalate the war against militants in Afghanistan.

The US still has nearly 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, though most are noncombat roles aimed at training and advising Afghan forces. They also provide air support to ground troops and operate a separate counter-terrorism unit that targets IS, al Qaeda and other militant groups.

The top US commander in Afghanistan has said he needs "several thousand" more troops to help the Afghans tackle a resurgent Taliban and other insurgent groups. But the Trump administration has yet to make a decision on how to move forward.

The US bombing in eastern Afghanistan came a week after US President Donald Trump ordered missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack, and as China warned of the potential for conflict amid rising US tensions with North Korea.

bik/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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