Taliban 'surging' in Afghanistan, US defence chief warns

Options on Afghanistan to be presented to Trump'very soon: Mattis

Options on Afghanistan to be presented to Trump'very soon: Mattis

Mattis appeared before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in hearings late Monday and early Tuesday to discuss the department's 2018 budget needs, but faced repeated questioning by the lawmakers over the Pentagon's vision for Afghanistan.

But that plan has not yet been presented to Congress and a senior administration official told CNN on Monday that President Donald Trump is not expected to make a decision on the United States strategy in Afghanistan for several more weeks.

Senior U.S. officials have sought recently to get China, a strong trade partner of North Korea, to put diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang to get them to back down from moving ahead with their weapons programs.

Mattis' appearance before the HASC is the first of four consecutive Capitol Hill hearings this week where he will press the case for Trump's 2018 budget proposal.

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) questioned whether the United States is throwing good money after bad in Afghanistan, because the Pentagon doesn't appear to have a strategy.

"We've listened very carefully to Gen. Nicholson's assessment", Dunford said. "You can't expect a stable budget if you don't give us a strategy".

Mr Mattis has already told the House of Representatives armed services committee that he intends to take a "a regional approach" to Afghanistan and developing the new strategy would involve various USA government agencies. "We can not keep piling missions on our service members without ensuring they have all they need to succeed", Mr Thornberry said.

Also on Monday, a report by a US-based think-tank said that the North's effort to circumvent global sanctions on its nuclear and missile programmes is complex, but could be defeated by targeting relatively few Chinese firms.

McCain noted there are "problems within this administration" when it comes to determining a strategy.

McCain then threatened that if the Pentagon doesn't come up with a strategy for Afghanistan soon, "you're going to get a strategy from us". "It's yours", he said. To date, more than 2,300 Americans have been - the latest only three days ago, when an Afghan soldier opened fire on three United States soldiers ineastern Afghanistan. More than 2,200 U.S. troops have died, and more than 20,000 more have been wounded. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations such as Britain also have lost troops during the conflict.

A truck bomb explosion in Kabul last month killed more than 150 people, making it the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a NATO-led coalition after ruling the country for five years. This week, the White House held another meeting on Afghanistan.

But the Defense Department chief noted that rushing toward a war plan for Afghanistan, without carefully weighing the complicated situation in the country facing USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commanders, could make the situation worse.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it would be "a massive mistake" to pull out entirely from Afghanistan and "would affect the security of Americans".

On Saturday, a uniformed member of the Afghan Special Forces turned his gun on US military personnel, killing three American soldiers and wounding one other.

Mattis assured him that that the current regime will son brief them about the policy on Afghanistan by mid-July.

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