Trump wants forces reduced in Afghanistan by next USA election: Pompeo

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The disclosure of a timeline will add to speculation that Trump is prepared to strike any deal with the Taliban insurgency that will allow for at least partial USA withdrawal before American voters go to the polls, irrespective of concerns by the US -backed government in Kabul.

An Afghan soldier shot and killed two American service members in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Monday.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the name of the service members killed in action are being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin is complete.

So far this year, 12 service members have been killed in Afghanistan and almost 60 have been wounded.

"That's my directive from the president of the United States", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in response to a question at the Economic Club of Washington DC.

Pompeo said Trump had directed him to reduce USA troops before the 2020 presidential election.

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Pompeo also suggested that troop withdrawal is connected to how the U.S. president views his job performance, saying a reduction of forces is "not only my expectation, it would be job-enhancing".

"He's been unambiguous: End the endless wars, draw down, reduce".

The US military had suffered another casualty on July 13, in an attack that was claimed by the Taliban. "We hope that overall the need for combat forces in the region is reduced". At least 20 people were killed and about 50 were wounded.

Pompeo said he was "optimistic" about negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government. "It would be job enhancing".

"We think there's a path to reduce violence, achieve reconciliation and still make sure that the American counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan has a value and the potential to reduce risk here in the states", he said.

The secretary of state has previously given September 1st as a deadline for the talks.

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