Trump’s remarks followed a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday during which Trump voiced optimism that Pakistan could help broker a political settlement to end the nearly 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.
The comment about wiping out Afghanistan prompted a stiff response from its presidential palace, which has been excluded from talks between the United States and the Taliban and which accuses Pakistan of supporting the insurgency.
“The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” the presidential palace said in a statement.
“While the Afghan government supports the U.S. efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership,” it said.
It called for clarification of Trump’s statement.
During his comments in Washington, Trump said that Pakistan was helping the United States “extricate” itself from Afghanistan, where the United States was acting as a “policeman” rather than fighting a war.
“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump told reporters at the White House where he was hosting a visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone,” he said.
“It would be over in — literally, in 10 days. And I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route.”
Trump’s comments could further complicate efforts to reach a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who travels to Kabul on Tuesday to continue meetings, said on Twitter that Trump had reiterated the need for a negotiated peace.
“There is no reasonable military solution to the war in Afghanistan, and that peace must be achieved through a political settlement,” Khalilzad said.