US plans shifting to “support role” by 2013
WASHINGTON (PAN): A day after President Hamid Karzai asked the US to pull out its troops from Afghan villages, the White House said the US plans to shift to “support role” by 2013, and would complete the security transition by 2014.
“Our strategy is to shift to a support role in 2013 and complete the transition in 2014. That kind of transition involves a change in the foot print,” the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters, when asked about the latest statement from Karzai.
“Our challenge in Afghanistan has been and would continue to be difficult. We have met with success in ultimately defeating Al Qaeda. …. We are withdrawing US troops, would continue to do that, and would continue to take the fight to al Qaeda in the region,” Carney said.
He added the US has had some indisputable success in achieving its objective in Afghanistan, insisting they would finish the security transition by 2014 as was decided in Lisbon.
Acknowledging that there are challenges in Afghanistan and there have been setbacks, Carney asserted the progress has been undeniable.
“So it is the assessment of this President, it is the assessment of NATO, that the timetable that is governing the drawdown, that is governing the transition, is the right timetable. It is a timetable that will allow us to achieve our objectives, as well as bring our men and women home,” Carney said in response to a question.
“It is the focus of the policy of the President to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, to stabilise Afghanistan enough so that Afghan forces can gradually take over security responsibility for their country. That has to be, ultimately, Afghanistan's future. We have sacrificed greatly, in our national security interests, but to ensure that that can come about,” he said.
“The President made clear in announcing his Afghanistan strategy that we and our allies and a broad coalition of international partners will continue to have a robust, strategic relationship with Afghanistan beyond the transition period. But it's 2012, and what that looks like obviously is difficult to predict with any specificity right now,” he noted.
At the same time, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters at his daily news conference that there could be no resolution to the current situation in Afghanistan without a political resolution.
However, he reiterated the US supported an Afghan-led political reconciliation process.
The State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters the US would continue to play a supportive role in talks with the Taliban. “Our goal here was to facilitate their ability to talk and maybe someday dance together. So our goal is to work ourselves out of a job if we possibly can,” she said, when asked about the latest statement from the Taliban they are withdrawing from the peace talks.
“We still feel that if there is a process that can be supported, that we ought to do that. We remain prepared to continue these discussions. Our only goal is to get Afghans to sit down together,” Nuland said.
“This is a process that's had a lot of ups and downs. It's had some of the steps that have been taken to date are really only preliminary. But again, it's only going to work if you have Taliban participants who are willing to do what's necessary,” Nuland said.
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