2013 dateline only a possibility: White House
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Obama Administration officials on Thursday had a tough time in explaining the announcement of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to end the Afghan combat mission by mid-2013.
The officials asserted it was only a possibility and there was no change in its NATO-determined Lisbon policy according to which security transition has to complete by 2014.
“This is within the context of the already-stated policy of transferring security lead to the Afghans by 2014,” the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, tried his best to explain Panetta’s remarks to the press a day earlier.
“How that transition takes place is what Secretary Panetta will be discussing and is discussing with defense ministers in Brussels, and that conversation will continue right up through May, when President Obama hosts his fellow NATO heads of state in Chicago,” Carney said in response to a question.
“We all remain, from President Obama all the way down, committed to the Lisbon agreement, that our goal is to complete this transition to Afghan lead by the end of 2014,” the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference which was dominated by issues revolving Panetta’s announcement.
“It is obviously the Secretary of Defense’s responsibility, working with NATO-ISAF colleagues, working with the Government of Afghanistan, to figure out how we execute that transition between now and the end of 2014 - based on conditions on the ground, security requirements, capability of Afghan National Security Forces and contributions of other international contributors,” Nuland said.
The Pentagon spokesman, said, Panetta’s remarks on end of combat mission by mid-2013 does not mean any change in the US policy. It is inconsistent with the Administration’s policy and the Lisbon declaration of complete transition by 2014.
Kirby denied that there was any difference between Panetta and Obama on this issue.
Meanwhile, the US welcomed the Kabul visit of the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar. “We look forward to a debrief from both Afghans and Pakistanis on the visit, but from what we can tell so far, it seems to have been a very good and well-timed visit,” Nuland said.
“We have always supported good neighborly relations and dialogue and collaboration on the security side, on the political side, on the economic side between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said.
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