Significant drop in troop levels: White House
WASHINGTON (PAN): Ahead of a crucial Afghan-US summit later this week, the White House on Tuesday said there would be a considerable reduction in the presence of American troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
This in fact would be one of the key topics of discussions when US President Barack Obama meets his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai at his Oval Office on Friday, officials said, insisting that they did not expect any final decision to be made at the meeting.
But this is for the first time that a US official has publicly given an indication of the post-2014 troop level. No formal decision on the issue has been made so far.
“It is true that it (number of US troops in Afghanistan) would certainly be significantly lower than anywhere that we are today, in terms of the numbers of US troops, and in a range, again, that is consistent with the president's commitment to end the war,” the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications said.
Ben Rhodes told reporters during a conference call that following the White House meeting, the two leaders were expected to address a press conference. A joint statement is also likely to be issued.
“This is not a visit during which President Obama will be making decisions about US troop levels in the immediate future or beyond 2014. It's a visit where the two leaders will be able to consult about those issues, and then in the coming months, Obama will be able to make those decisions in consultation with his national security team,” he said.
The presidents will discuss the 2013 transition, the bilateral security agreement, political and economic transition, as well as reconciliation and regional stability.
Rhodes explained Obama was not aiming to keep a certain number of troops in Afghanistan. The objective of the bilateral security agreement negotiations was to accomplish the two goals of denying a safe haven to Al Qaida and training and equipping Afghan forces.
“There are, of course, many different ways of accomplishing those objectives, some of which might involve US troops, some of which might not,” he said.
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