Washington - President Donald Trump has said a hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill. He said his original instinct was to pull US forces out, but had instead decided to stay and "fight to win" to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq. He said he wanted to shift from a time-based approach in Afghanistan to one based on conditions on the ground, adding he would not set deadlines. However, the US president warned it was not a "blank cheque" for Afghanistan. "America will work with the Afghan government, so long as we see commitment and progress," he said. The Taliban responded by saying that Afghanistan would become "another graveyard" for the US if it did not withdraw its troops. President Trump has committed to stepping up the US military's engagement in Afghanistan, but details were few and far between. He said his new approach would be more pragmatic than idealistic, and would switch from nation building to "killing terrorists".
But he refused to get drawn on how many extra troops, if any, would be deployed and gave no timeline for ending the US presence in the country. Washington is expected to send up to 4,000 additional troops, but Mr Trump did not comment on this. The president did, however, put pressure on neighbouring Pakistan, warning that the US would no longer tolerate it offering "safe havens" to extremists - an accusation swiftly dismissed by a Pakistani army spokesman.(FA)