President plays down zero option talk
WASHINGTON (PAN): American forces would remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when security transition is to be completed, but would be stationed only at certain facilities in limited numbers to continue fighting against al Qaeda and its affiliates, President Hamid Karzai said on Friday.
Addressing students of the Georgetown University, he categorically ruled out the possibility of a “zero option” -- meaning the US would pull out all its troops from Afghanistan after 2014.
In his remarks on "Afghanistan Beyond 2014: A Perspective on Afghan-US Relations," Karzai said: “Today, I am glad to report to you that Afghanistan and the US agreed on a format for expanding our relationship into the bilateral security agreement…”
Under the accord, a reduced number of US troops will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 in certain bases and they will continue to train, assist and equip local forces.
In the last public engagement during his three-day visit to the US, he promised continued efforts at the development of his country. “The wheel of progress would move in continuity and would not stop.”
“Afghanistan is definitely moving in the right direction. 2014 would be a good year for us and the year after even better and this country would have a third presidential election,” he said.
The US-Afghan relationship over the past 10 years had grown, the president noted, said that his country would move forward in partnership with America and other NATO states.
One can visit the post-2014 Afghanistan as a tourist, he remarked. “Afghanistan would have peace, but peace with the Taliban would not drive us away from the gains that we have made. Rather those gains would be consolidated.”
Urging the audience to remember Afghanistan as a country of at least 5,000 years, Karzai said in recent years his nation’s suffering had ended. A new period had begun and that would continue after 2014.
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