the president’s top aides prepared for a high-stakes meeting on the
future of Afghanistan earlier this month, one senior official was not
on the original invite list: national security adviser John Bolton.
The attendance of the top security aide would normally be critical,
but the omission was no mistake, senior U.S. officials said. Bolton,
who has long advocated an expansive military presence around the
world, has become a staunch internal foe of an emerging peace deal
aimed at ending America’s longest war, the officials said. His
opposition to the diplomatic effort in Afghanistan has irritated
President Trump, these officials said, and led aides to leave the
National Security Council out of sensitive discussions about the
agreement. The sidelining of Bolton has raised questions about his
influence in an administration that is seeking a troop withdrawal
from Afghanistan, as well as an ambitious nuclear deal with North
Korea and potential engagement with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Bolton, U.S. officials said, stands in opposition to those efforts,
but he does so increasingly from the periphery.
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