July 11, 2019 / 3:17 PM / 10 days ago

Premature exit from Afghanistan would be 'strategic mistake': U.S. general

U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would be a strategic mistake, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the top military officer said on Thursday, as the United States and Taliban make progress to end the nearly 18 years of war.

“I think pulling out prematurely would be a strategic mistake,” General Mark Milley, currently the Army’s chief of staff and nominee to head the joint chiefs of staff, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Milley said he believed the war would eventually be brought to an end through a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. He added that there was “some progress” in that effort.

The United States and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centered on a U.S. promise to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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