The Latest: Tillerson raises prospect of punishing Pakistan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and US policy in Afghanistan (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. could consider punishing Pakistan or cutting off its status as a major non-NATO ally if Pakistan doesn’t crack down on the Taliban and other extremist groups.

Trump’s top diplomat says those and other options are “on the table” if Pakistan is unwilling to change its posture.

Tillerson is raising those possibilities in light of President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan plan.

Tillerson says numerous terrorist organizations find safe haven in Pakistan.


1:55 p.m.

The top U.S commander for the Middle East says the first deployments of new U.S. forces will arrive in Afghanistan “pretty quickly.’”

Gen. Joseph Votel estimates it could take days or a few weeks.

He says that “what’s most important for us now is to get some capabilities in to have an impact on the current fighting season.”

Votel spent last weekend in Afghanistan.

He spoke on Tuesday to reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia.


8:50 a.m.

Pakistan says the American ambassador has met with the foreign minister to discuss President Donald Trump’s accusation that Pakistan is sheltering terrorists.

Pakistan also says that Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “in the next few days” in Washington.

A Pakistani government statement isn’t directly addressing Trump’s accusations or his warning that Pakistan put an “immediate” end to its practice of harboring insurgents.

The statement does stress “Pakistan’s perspective and desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

The statement says the minister reminded the American ambassador that thousands of Pakistanis have been victims of terrorism and that Pakistan wants to work with other countries to “eliminate the menace of terrorism.”


8:15 a.m.

Germany’s foreign minister is calling on the United States to consult with Europe on how to make Afghanistan “more peaceful and more secure.”

Sigmar Gabriel says it’s important to ensure that “people from Afghanistan don’t have to flee to us.”

He says “further migration destabilizes not just Afghanistan but also Europe.”

Afghans were the third-biggest group of people seeking asylum in Germany in July, behind Syrians and Iraqis.

President Donald Trump has recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.


7:33 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says President Donald Trump is sending a “message of resolve and commitment” on Afghanistan.

Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday, Pence said Trump is offering “a whole new regional strategy for South Asia.”

During a nationally televised address Monday night, Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Trump did not detail how many more U.S. troops will be sent. Pence said the exact numbers were “yet to be seen.”

Pence also defended Trump, who touched off a firestorm after saying “both sides” were to blame for violence that erupted at a rally organized by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The vice president said Trump has denounced “bigotry and hatred,” adding that “there was no moral equivalency drawn by the president.”


7:15 a.m.

The German government is welcoming “the United States’ readiness to continue its long-term commitment in Afghanistan.”

The government said in a statement Tuesday after President Donald Trump alluded to deploying more American troops in Afghanistan that Germany and the U.S. share the aim of ensuring that no terror attacks are spawned there. It added: “It is right, and the German government has long advocated this, for the end of the deployment to be linked to the conditions on the ground.”

It pressed for the Afghan government to step up its reform and anti-corruption efforts, but also to “seek dialogue with the parts of the Taliban that are prepared for a peaceful reconciliation.”

Germany is one of the major contributors to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, with 950 troops largely in northern Afghanistan.


6:55 a.m.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. stands behind its commitment to Afghanistan demonstrates his understanding of the weight of his office — a point the president made in his speech Monday night.

“It’s one thing to be a candidate and talk about what you think,” Haley said on CNN’s " New Day,” the morning after Trump broke with his campaign statements opposing continuing U.S. involvement in the war-ravaged nation.

Haley also says she believes Trump turned in favor of staying the course there because “he listened to his generals.”

She tells CNN that Trump words reflect his desire to pursue a “results-based” policy in South Asia, with less focus on the duration of the commitment and less speculation about troop strength.


6:40 a.m.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani says he appreciates President Donald Trump’s commitment to Afghanistan, which Trump announced in a speech outlining his strategy for the war-torn country.

Ghani, who was traveling in southern Kandahar province, released a statement Tuesday thanking Trump and the American people.

Ghani said there will be an increase in training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces as well as the country’s air force and special forces.

He says the implementation of Trump’s strategy will help stabilize the region.


6:30 a.m.

The top U.S. diplomat in Kabul says President Donald Trump made it clear that the U.S. “is not going anywhere,” while at the same time warning the Afghan government that it too has much to do if stability is to come to Afghanistan.

Special Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy Ambassador Hugo Llorens in a statement Tuesday urged the Afghan government to deal with widespread corruption, make good on a promise to hold parliamentary polls next year and enact tough economic reforms.

He also called on Afghanistan’s leadership to shed its ethnic differences and embrace each other.

Llorens said the U.S. will also “maintain pressure on the Taliban to join a peace process with the Afghan government to end the war in Afghanistan.”

Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to Afghanistan, making Llorens the top U.S. diplomat in the country.


6:00 a.m.

China is defending its close ally Pakistan following comments by President Donald Trump that the country was not doing enough to shut down safe havens for terror groups operating out of its territory.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Tuesday said Pakistan lies on the front line of the anti-terrorism struggle and has made “great sacrifices” in battling insurgents who pose a threat to the region and the world.

In his speech Monday, Trump said the U.S. “can no longer be silent” about terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and that the country gives sanctuary to “agents of chaos, violence and terror.”

China and Pakistan have close economic, political and security ties dating back decades, based partly on their shared distrust of India, with which both have disputed borders.


3:18 a.m.

Reversing his past calls for a speedy exit, President Donald Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, declaring U.S. troops must “fight to win.” He pointedly declined to disclose how many more troops will be dispatched to wage America’s longest war.

In a prime-time address to unveil his new Afghanistan strategy, Trump said Monday the U.S. would shift away from a “time-based” approach, instead linking its assistance to results and to cooperation from the beleaguered Afghan government, Pakistan and others. He insisted it would be a “regional” strategy that addressed the roles played by other South Asian nations — especially Pakistan’s harboring of elements of the Taliban.

“America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” Trump said. “However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.”

Still, Trump offered few details about how progress would be measured.