Kabul- US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster met Afghan officials in Kabul on Sunday and said the new administration was weighing diplomatic, military and economic responses to its Taliban and ISIS enemies in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, the US military dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used in combat, during an operation against ISIS militants in eastern Afghanistan.
While military officials said the strike was based solely on tactical needs, it led to speculation that Trump’s defense advisers are planning to escalate the war against militants in Afghanistan.
The strike was estimated to have killed nearly 100 militants and no civilians, according to Ministry of Defense in Kabul.
McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss bilateral ties, security, counter- terrorism, reforms and development, according to a palace statement.
He praised anti-corruption efforts and assured Ghani that the United States would continue to support and cooperate with Afghanistan on a number of issues, according to the palace.
Ghani told McMaster that “terrorism is a serious issue for the security of the world and the region” and if serious steps are not taken it would affect “generations” of people, according to the statement.
Nearly 9,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan forces, provide close air support to soldiers on the ground and form a separate counter-terrorism unit that targets ISIS, al Qaeda and other militant networks.
Interviewed from Afghanistan, McMaster said the United States had a more reliable Afghan partner than before but at the same time had reduced the degree and scope of its effort in that country.
“Our enemy sensed that and they have redoubled their efforts and it’s time for us, alongside our Afghan partners, to respond,” he said.
Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, had asked US officials, including some in the Treasury and Commerce departments, to work together to integrate the various political, diplomatic, military and economic responses available, McMaster said.
“We’ll give him those options. And we’ll be prepared to execute whatever decision he makes,” he said.
Tags: USA, Afghanistan, H.R. McMaster, Donald Trump, Ashraf Ghani, ISIS, al-Qaeda, terrorism
Caption: President Donald Trump, right, listens as Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, talks at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. AP