Donald Trump vows to stay the course in Afghanistan
The US President says rapid withdrawal would leave door open for terrorists
Donald Trump has said the US will fight on and "fight to win" in Afghanistan, prolonging America's involvement in the 16-year conflict.
In a speech to troops at Fort Myer, Virginia, which reversed his campaign pledge to withdraw from the conflict, the US President said "America will work with the Afghan government so long as we see commitment and progress."
However, he insisted that the focus of US involvement had changed. "We are not nation building again," he said. "We are killing terrorists."
He also delivered a warning to Pakistan, which he accused of harbouring of terrorists. "We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars - at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting," he said.
The country had "much to lose" unless it began siding with US forces, he added.
The speech did not set out figures for extra troop numbers or a deadline for achieving victory in a war Trump once described as a "complete waste".
"Trump's new approach to Afghanistan is the result of a long policy review within his administration that was finalised during a presidential retreat with top advisers at Camp David on Friday," the Washington Post reports.
Writing for USA Today, Vice President Mike Pence derided the Obama administration's setting of an "arbitrary end date" for military operations in Afghanistan. "We need only look at Iraq, and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria following the last administration's withdrawal of US forces, to see where this path leads," he said.
Before last night's speech, "the Trump White House [had] already given the Pentagon authority to deploy another 4,000 more troops to bolster the 8,400 there already and vice-president Mike Pence was reported to have told Congress that 3,900 extra soldiers would be sent", The Guardian says.