Zero option not a preferred choice: White House
WASHINGTON (PAN): Zero option is not the preferred choice for the Obama administration, the White House said on Friday, reiterating its enduring commitment to Afghanistan a post-2014 presence would be based on negotiations with Kabul.
“We do have an enduring commitment to Afghanistan. And whether we have a residual force there or not, that commitment will continue. The commitment will continue through our Strategic Partnership Agreement," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Carney told his daily news conference the commitment to Afghanistan would continue through a security relationship which would involve US efforts to continue to go after the remnants of Al-Qaida in the region and to help train and equip the Afghan security forces.
“The question of whether or not there's a residual US troop presence is something we have to negotiate with the Afghan government. We're not going to make a promise about a residual force if we haven't negotiated the circumstances of that with Afghanistan. So it has to be the case, as we've said as long back as far back as January, that one option is no troops,” he insisted.
Carney said no decision had been made on the number of troops in Afghanistan post 2014 and it was not coming soon. “I'm not saying that's the preferred option; I'm just saying to suggest otherwise would be to make assumptions about negotiations that have not reached a conclusion.”
President, Barack Obama, he added, would be discussing with his national security team the issue of a potential residual force post-2014. The range of options depended on a number of things, he continued.
“We have discussions going with the Afghans about a bilateral security agreement, we have a very important strategic partnership agreement that we continue to implement with them that has to do with our substantial commitment to Afghanistan and Afghanistan's future, including a strong civilian component,” Carney concluded.
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