Obama yet to decide on scope of troop drawdown
WASHINGTON (PAN): US President Barack Obama would hold a video conference with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai ahead of a decision on the nature and scope of a troop drawdown from Afghanistan, beginning in July.
The video conference is scheduled for Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference after Obama held a monthly Af-Pak situation room meeting with his top national security team.
"By video, (Defense) Secretary Robert Gates briefed the president on his recent trip to Afghanistan in preparation for the president's upcoming video conference with Karzai, which will take place on June 8," Carney said.
During the situation room meeting, which lasted about two hours, Obama received briefings on progress in implementing his strategy for Pakistan. "The group also discussed our strategic partnership with Afghanistan and the progress being made to build and sustain Afghan national security forces."
Carney said no decision had been made yet on the drawdown of troops and Obama was yet to receive a report from Gen. David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan. However, he said, the drawdown would begin in July.
"The president is going to make his decision, as he has said all along, based on conditions on the ground, not whether or not there will be a drawdown, or the beginning of a drawdown, but the size and scope and pace of the drawdown," he continued.
Carney said there had to be a political settlement in Afghanistan, and obviously that would have to include elements of the Taliban. "We support that process."
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