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Top U.S. Senator Says Announcement On U.S. Troop Drawdown Expected This Week


U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (file photo)

ISLAMABAD -- A top U.S. senator said that President Donald Trump is expected to announce a U.S. troop drawdown from Afghanistan this week.

Lindsey Graham, a leading Republican lawmaker and a close ally of Trump, said December 16 that the reduction could see troop numbers decreasing from the current estimated 12,000, down to 8,600.

"The Afghan security forces are getting more capable," Graham said during a visit to the Afghan capital, Kabul. "As they achieve capability, the number of U.S. forces necessary can go down.”

Earlier, Graham met in Islamabad with Pakistan’s prime minister and army chief during a visit to the South Asian country.

Pakistan’s military said that Graham discussed “regional security” issues, including the peace process to end the 18-year conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, with powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Graham also held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Graham’s visit comes after U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Pakistan last week to brief the country's leaders about his latest negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.

Khalilzad earlier this month resumed talks with Taliban negotiators in Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office.

The talks were the first direct contact between the sides since U.S. President Donald Trump three months ago halted peace negotiations.

Pakistan and its spy agency, which are often accused of harboring Afghan militant fighters, are said to have considerable influence on the Taliban.

With reporting by AP