Afghan ambassador gives Donald Trump '10 out of 10' for strategy speech

Afghanistan's government has applauded US president Donald Trump's strategy, praising its focus on needs and conditions instead of timelines.

Hamdullah Mohib, the country's ambassador to the US, called the president's speech "10 out of 10", saying his country heard "exactly what we needed to".

Mr Mohib said critics of the speech for failing to disclose troop numbers were misguided and their emphasis on numbers detracted from the "real focus" on conditions and support needed for Afghanistan to succeed and achieve peace.

The ambassador also praised Mr Trump for "breaking the silence" about Pakistan's sheltering of what he calls terrorists, after the president stressed the need for Pakistan to stop harbouring the Taliban.

Mr Mohib said Afghanistan had made progress and was committed to pursuing reforms to show it merited continuing help from the US.

US senator John McCain also praised Mr Trump's strategy for Afghanistan and said the president needed to start conducting himself as a "wartime commander in chief".

The Arizona Republican said while the plan was long overdue, it moved the United States well past the Obama administration's "failed strategy of merely postponing defeat" in Afghanistan.

Mr McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Mr Trump to speak regularly "to the American people, and to those waging this war on their behalf, about why we are fighting, why the additional sacrifices are worth it, and how we will succeed".

He said his committee would hold a hearing on Mr Trump's Afghanistan strategy in September.

But Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the committee, criticised the Trump speech as too vague.

He said the plan was late in coming and "short on the details our troops and the American people deserve".

Mr Reed said defence secretary Jim Mattis said two months ago that there was no strategy for Afghanistan.

He said Mr Trump's repeated delays and mixed messages about the commitment to Afghanistan harmed American credibility with the country's leaders and members of the US-led coalition.

Mr Reed said Mr Trump needed to use US diplomacy more than he had so far, but added that the president's State Department was understaffed and facing steep budget cuts as part of plan to boost US military spending.

Breitbart News called the speech a reversal, saying the president was defending his "flip-flop".

The conservative news site referred to the conflict as an "unlimited war".

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon resumed his role of executive chairman of the website on Friday after leaving the White House.

Breitbart refers to Mr Trump's plan for Afghanistan as "tweaks around the edges of the current strategy instead of a different approach".

The website said the speech was a "disappointment" to those who had called for an end to foreign intervention and nation-building.

The top US general in Afghanistan says Mr Trump's "new approach" to Afghanistan would deny the Taliban a military victory.

John Nicholson called on the Taliban to "renounce violence and reconcile" and said Mr Trump's new policy promised the Afghan government that the US commitment was "strong and enduring".

Meanwhile a Taliban spokesman dismissed Mr Trump's remarks as "old" and "unclear".

Zabiullah Mujahid said "the whole speech was old" and added that the Taliban would come out with a more detailed response later.

Last week the Taliban issued a 1,600-word open letter to Mr Trump warning against a troop surge, saying it would prolong what is already the United States' longest war.

The Taliban has also said it is not ready for any peace talks, at least not until the US and Nato give a timescale for withdrawal - something Mr Trump says will not happen.

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