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US looks to Pakistan for help to end Afghanistan war

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump claimed Monday he could end the nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan in a matter of days but that it would kill millions of people and wipe the country “off the face of the earth.”

The president made the statement at the White House as he praised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and sought his help in negotiating a peace deal in neighboring Afghanistan.

“I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone. It would be over, literally, in 10 days.”

Warming up to Khan marked a turnaround for Trump, who has been sharply critical of Pakistan and now hopes Khan’s government will use its influence with the Taliban to advance a peace deal and help the U.S. withdraw from the war.

The war began when the U.S. went after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his Taliban supporters in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Sitting alongside Khan, Trump said he wanted a peaceful resolution. “So we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves,” he said.

The pleasantries in the Oval Office were an abrupt change from when Trump cut millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, saying the only thing it offered the United States was “lies” and “deceit.”

Khan has bashed Trump too, but now says Pakistan is also eager to work to end the war.

The U.S. wants Pakistan to use its leverage to get the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire, negotiate with the Afghan government and stop harboring militant groups.