Trump speaks with Afghan leader, US commander calls for more troops

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Afghan counterpart discussed security in a phone call on Thursday, officials said, hours after the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said thousands more troops were needed to break a stalemate with the Taliban.

Trump and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also spoke about opportunities to strengthen ties, counterterrorism cooperation and economic development, the White House said in a statement.

It said Trump also emphasized the continuing importance of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership and his support for Ghani’s government, which is faced with an emboldened Taliban-led insurgency that is still gaining ground after more than 15 years of war.

The U.S. Embassy in Washington said Trump and Ghani had spoken on Dec. 3, but Thursday’s call was their first since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Hours before the call, General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington he did not have enough troops to adequately advise Afghan forces on the ground.

Nicholson said he had enough U.S. troops to carry out counterterrorism operations against the Taliban, al Qaeda and other insurgents but also acknowledged gains made by the Taliban over the past year.

“We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” Nicholson said.

Trump has so far offered little…

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