North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 'aware of reports' about United States troop cuts in Afghanistan

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Peace talks aside, the announced withdrawal has Afghan generals and analysts anxious about the ability of the beleaguered Afghan National Afghan Security Force to stave off a Taliban insurgency unfettered by United States troops and their pounding air power.

Pakistan on Saturday welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to slash U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, calling it a step towards peace in the war-torn nation.

Dawn news agency quoted Qureshi as saying that Pakistan has also released some prisoners so that "an enabling environment" favorable to the talks can be created.

While Afghanistan's government was not included in the talks, Kabul was concerned that a hasty agreement between the USA and Taliban negotiators would potentially undermine the country's security. The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation retreated into a training and advising role.

The United States would still have 7,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission and a separate USA counterterrorism mission, if the withdrawal order reported by various US media outlets, citing officials, is carried out.

"This makes no strategical sense, as it weakens the U.S.'s own position and that of its local ally, the Afghan government, in the midst of attempts to get a peace process going", says Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think tank in Kabul.

USA special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met Taliban representatives during at least three separate rounds of direct talks in recent months as part of the effort to encourage negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul.

USA troops stormed into Afghanistan in November 2001 in an invasion triggered by the September 11 attacks. Observers, however, have warned that the U.S. withdrawal could have a "devastating" impact on stability in Kabul and any such move would offer Taliban militants a psychological edge in the conflict and propaganda victory.

Peace talks aside, the announced withdrawal has Afghan generals and analysts anxious about the ability of the beleaguered Afghan National Afghan Security Force to stave off a Taliban insurgency unfettered by US troops and their pounding air power.

Some analysts say the US troop withdrawal could also have a silver lining and could send a useful message to all sides.

President Donald Trump considers the war in Afghanistan a lost cause and has long pushed to pull the troops out.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

On Friday, Harun Chakhansuri, a top spokesman for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, however, told media that Washington's drawdown would have no major impact on Afghanistan's ability to defend itself. Nearly 17,000 troops from 39 nations take part in NATO's Resolute Support mission helping to train and mentor Afghan security forces.

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