Afghanistan’s Abdullah welcomes Trump commitment to troops

By Josh Smith | KABUL

Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday expressed hope that the United States would continue its support for the Afghan government after American President Donald Trump publicly spoke with U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan after his inauguration on Friday.

“I want to congratulate the U.S president on behalf of myself, the Afghan government and the people of Afghanistan,” Abdullah said at an event to launch a bid for $550 million in international humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, which remains locked in a bloody war between the Western-backed government and insurgent groups like the Taliban.

Trump, attending a post-inauguration ball in Washington, spoke by video link with American troops stationed at a base north of Kabul.

“I’m with you all the way… we’re going to do it together,” he told the troops. “The courage that you show is incredible.”

As president-elect, Trump spoke by phone with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in early December, but has provided few details on whether he will continue the billions of dollars per year in military and development aid to Afghanistan, nor has he confirmed the future of the nearly 9,000 American troops still deployed there.

Abdullah, who shares power with Ghani after a 2014 U.S.-brokered political deal, said he interpreted Trump’s comments to the troops as a positive sign.

“I watched the U.S. president’s message to their soldiers… and he announced his support for them, which is a good and graceful step and I am sure that cooperation will continue in all aspects.”

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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