U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter reassures Afghans that the U.S. will continue to support Kabul, amid doubts over President-elect Donald Trump's foreign policy stance. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: The United States will "remain committed" to Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday (December 9) amid questions over what President-elect Donald Trump's foreign policy will mean for the country as it faces a renewed Taliban insurgency. Carter arrived in the Afghan capital on an unannounced visit and met U.S. troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. "America is, and will, remain committed to a sovereign and secure Afghanistan," Carter told a news conference with Ghani. Trump has given few details of his foreign policy plans, with surprisingly few specifics on Afghanistan, where nearly 10,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground more than 15 years after the Islamist Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces. Afghanistan was barely mentioned during a bitterly fought election campaign, which largely focused on domestic issues. Trump, however has said the United States should stop carrying out "nation building". Ghani and Trump spoke by telephone last week and the Trump's transition team said in a statement they discussed the "terrorism threats facing both countries". One of the most important questions facing Trump on Afghanistan, former officials and experts say, is how many U.S. troops will remain there. Acknowledging that Afghan security remained precarious and Taliban forces had gained ground in some places, President Barack Obama shelved plans to cut the U.S. presence almost in half by year's end, opting instead to keep 8,400 troops there through to the end of his presidency in January. Trump will inherit a challenging security situation in Afghanistan. A number of provincial capitals have been under pressure from the Taliban while Afghan forces have been suffering high casualty rates, with more than 5,500 killed in the first eight months of 2016.