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Graham on Afghanistan Agreement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement following the announcement that the United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban and Afghan government.

“I will support any reasonable effort to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan. I appreciate Ambassador Khalilzad and Secretary of State Pompeo working in conjunction with our military to deliver a reduction in violence with the Taliban so as to start intra-Afghan negotiations with the hope of ending the conflict in Afghanistan.

“However, any peace agreement must be sustainable, honorable, and include protections for the American homeland against international terrorist organizations that are alive and well in Afghanistan.

“I have been assured by the State Department and our military that our withdrawal is conditions-based, which would include assuring that the American homeland is protected from international terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and throughout the region.

“A reduction of U.S. forces to around 8,600 is warranted, given the current situation on the ground. Any further reductions, however, must be conditions-based and assume that the capabilities of the Afghan security forces are sufficient to protect the Afghan people, the American homeland, and our allies.

“I appreciate the Trump administration’s efforts to end this conflict, but it has to be done in a fashion that protects American national security interests, the dignity of Afghan women, and preservation of the current Afghan constitution.

“Time will tell if these laudable goals can be achieved through negotiations with the Taliban.

“Let us never forget that Afghanistan is the place where the planning and execution of 9/11 began. The Taliban provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, paving the way for 9/11. Al-Qaeda elements still exist, along with more radical ISIS-K forces, both of whom wish to strike American interests at home and abroad. A residual U.S. counterterrorism force with intel capability is an insurance policy against another 9/11. We have fought too hard and sacrificed too much to allow our security gains to slip away.

“I am very suspect of the Taliban ever accepting the Afghan constitution and honoring the rights of religious minorities and women. Time will tell if reconciliation in Afghanistan can be accomplished with honor and security, but after more than 18 years of war, it is time to try.”

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