US President Donald Trump on Saturday said he planned to meet Taliban leaders in the "not-too-distant future", asserting that it was time that the war against terrorism was fought by someone else, particularly the countries in the region.
"I will be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not-too-distant future. And we will be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say they are going to be doing: they will be killing terrorists. They will be killing some very bad people. They will keep that fight going," Trump told reporters at a White House press conference.
"We have had tremendous success in Afghanistan in the killing of terrorists, but it is time, after all these years, to go and bring our people back home. We want to bring our people back home," the president said hours after the United States signed an agreement with the Taliban in Doha, under which it has committed to withdrawing all its troops from Afghanistan in 14 months' time.
"We just signed an agreement that puts us in a position to get it done, bring us down to in the vicinity of 8,000 troops. The United Nations was informed of everything," Trump said.
The US currently has some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.
The president said it had been a long journey in Afghanistan.
"It's been a very long journey. It's been a hard journey for everybody. We are, very largely, a law enforcement group. And that is not what our soldiers are all about. They are fighters. They are the greatest fighters in the world," he said.
"As you know, we have destroyed, in Syria and Iraq, 100 per cent of the ISIS caliphate. One hundred per cent. We have thousands of prisoners. We have killed ISIS fighters by the thousands and, likewise, in Afghanistan. But now it is time for somebody else to do that work and that will be the Taliban and it could be the surrounding countries. There are many countries that surround Afghanistan that can help. We are 8,000 miles away," Trump said.
"So we will be bringing it down to 8,000 to approximately 8,600 -- in that vicinity -- and then we will make our final decision (at) some point in the fairly near future. But this was a very spirited agreement. There was a lot of talk. There was a lot of everything. They have been trying to get this for many years," he said.
The president said he really believed that the Taliban wanted to do something to show that they were not wasting time.
"If bad things happen, we will go back. I let the people know: we will go back and we will go back so fast, and we will go back with a force like nobody has ever seen. I do not think that will be necessary. I hope it is not necessary," he said.
Responding to a question, Trump said the Taliban wanted this to happen.
"The Taliban wanted it to happen. President (Ashraf) Ghani was very much involved in this, as you know. And he is now dealing with the Taliban," he said.
The Taliban, Trump said, had given a very strong pledge.
"We will see how that works out. We hope it is going to work out very well. I think they have big incentives to do it, but they have to take care of the terrorists and kill the terrorists. We will be working in a different kind of a fashion toward that end.
"But the job we have done has been a fantastic one in terms of terrorists and terrorism, and it is time for our people to start coming home," he added.