No rush for exits: Crocker
However, American troops would remain in the country as long as Afghans desired their presence, Ryan Crocker said after being sworn in at the US embassy in Kabul.
The US was wrong in abandoning the country following the Soviet withdrawal in the early 1990s, something that triggered a debilitating civil war and paved the ground for Taliban's rise to power, he acknowledged.
About the ongoing security transfer in Afghanistan, he said: "It is a time for us to step back and for the Afghans to step forward, as they are doing. There can be no more clearer evidence than in last week's successful security transition..."
But he cautioned against an abrupt pullout, saying Americans, the international community and the Afghan leadership should proceed carefully. "There will be no rush for the exits. The way we do this in the months ahead will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far into the future."
Even after the pullout of combat troops in 2014, the US would help prevent the insurgents from coming back to power and assist Afghanistan in different fields, promised the envoy, who replaced Karl Eikenberry a month back.
Crocker went on to explain a US presence in Afghanistan did not mean that they wanted to influence regional countries. "We have no interest in using Afghanistan as a platform to protect influence into neighbouring countries. Our sole interest is in Afghanistan's security and sustainable stability."
He urged Afghanistan's neighbours and the international community to aid that quest for stability and prosperity. The international conferences in Istanbul in November and Bonn in December would chart a course well beyond 2014, he hoped.
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