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secretary of state Mike Pompeii %HESITATION is accelerating a plan to slash up to half of the U. S. embassy staff in Kabul Reuters has learned a surprise move that some US officials say could undermine peace talks with Taliban militants which so far have made only meager progress national security correspondent Jonathan land day broke the story the Taliban's negotiating position is already strengthened by the fact that everybody knows because he's made it public the president trump wants out of Afghanistan so that gives an enormous leverage once they see there's a major cut in the staffing at the embassy %HESITATION there are concerns that they will interpret that is yet more confirmation that the United States is on its way out and digging even harder in negotiations with the United States home pay as the order comes about a year earlier than expected those sources told Reuters the move was not accompanied by a justification one US official said the embassy drawdown should be seen as part of a broader strategy shift as the trump administration moves from a focus on counterterrorism to threats posed by Russia and China US officials have separately told Reuters president trump plans to withdraw up to half of the fourteen thousand US troops now based in Afghanistan the Kabul embassy America's largest diplomatic mission currently boasts a work force of about fifteen hundred analysts fear the reduction could a road in already strained relationship between Washington and Afghan president Ashraf Ghani , in the mean time fighting in Afghanistan has escalated in recent months as both sides in the conflict seek to increase leverage in talks on a possible peace deal