Excerpt from MEET THE PRESS

Editor’s Note — The following is an exclusive excerpt from MEET THE PRESS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER, a joint interview with Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib and Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and current…

Excerpt from MEET THE PRESS

Editor’s Note — The following is an exclusive excerpt from MEET THE PRESS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER, a joint interview with Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib and Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and current visiting scholar at Stanford University and Brookings Institution. It airs on Sunday, January 7 at 7:00 PM EST on CNN/U.S.

Our interview has been edited for clarity and length.

(…) The Obama administration is coming to the decision: Should we keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan for five years? Should we keep troops there for 10 years? Should we stay forever?

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Hamdullah Mohib (center), gives his final remarks to applause in the Trump administration’s Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, in Washington on January 3, 2017. United States President Donald Trump (L) is sitting at left. And Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) gestures as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) listens at right. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Gone are the days when every army was a fighting army. When you look at what’s happening in Afghanistan at the moment, where the Taliban are basically in control of a third of the country. The country is effectively a no-man’s land.

Airstrikes by the U.S. and international forces are no longer effective. Our strategy, led by General Nicholson, the commander of the international forces in Afghanistan, has to be different.

We need a different government. And of course, that has to have some degree of sovereignty and authority. And of course, ultimately, there has to be an Afghan-led security force.

And whether the Afghans are ready is a different issue. But I think, for us, the reality is: We have to start making some tough choices.

(…) Our policy will be Afghanistan first. This country, as its ambassador has said, cannot be governed from here or there. The Afghan people and government need to be given a chance to succeed, to rebuild their country. The U.S. has provided the moral, economic and diplomatic support to carry that out.

But I want to reassure our friends in this country: It is not war. It is not defeat. We will support our partners in Afghanistan, our ally, the Afghan people. And we, the United States, will not abandon them.

My message to our friends is, please don’t expect the United States to be in the business of trying to rebuild Afghanistan, and we won’t be in the business of trying to get those people out of prison or give them permission to go back to their communities and places of livelihood.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (left) shakes hands with Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada during their meeting in Islamabad on December 14, 2016. — Photo by Associated Press

(…) We need to make sure that in trying to reduce the insurgency and bring peace to Afghanistan, we use our normal bilateral diplomatic channels. We have never cut our doors to U.S. officials for meetings in Kabul or in Washington. The door is always open to you.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets with Taliban leaders in Qatar on December 14, 2016. — Photo by Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

(…) We have a history. We are a long way from signing a treaty on a president’s desk. One has to carefully consider what is the position of Afghanistan on each of the issues that are being discussed.

You cannot declare what a solution looks like or how it’s going to be reached.

One has to understand that the formal negotiations which went on in Brussels through these various sides have ended. There’s a lot of things that we must do within our structures, our national and international affairs, to make sure that we are able to end this conflict.

Now is the time for President Ghani to go to the British Prime Minister and other European leaders and say, I need our help in negotiating with those who have a political interest in eliminating extremism, eliminating terrorists from our society.

That’s where we need the support of our friends and allies, and we need that support to happen without delay.

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