US election: Taliban endorse Trump
Published: 01:05 PM, 12 October 2020
US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump on Friday received an unusual endorsement from the Taliban for his reelection bid, a US media reported citing a Taliban spokesperson.
"We hope he will win the election and wind up the US military presence in Afghanistan," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News in a phone interview.
The Taliban also expressed concern over the US president's recent coronavirus infection. "When we heard about Trump being COVID-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but seems he is getting better," another Taliban senior leader told CBS News.
Meanwhile, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Saturday that they "reject" the Taliban support. "The Taliban should know that the president will always protect American interests by any means necessary," he said.
There are now fewer than 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan, and national security adviser Robert O'Brien has said that number would drop to 2,500 by early next year.
In February this year, the Trump administration signed a historic pact with the Taliban in which the US and its allies set a timetable for US troops to withdraw by the spring of 2021. The pact requires the Taliban to break from al Qaeda and negotiate a power-sharing deal with Afghan government rivals.
After meeting with Taliban co-founder and political deputy Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that the US was set for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan by April or May of 2021.
This week, Trump said all troops should be "home by Christmas". "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas," he tweeted on Wednesday.