US rules out zero option
WASHINGTON (PAN): Hopeful that the much-awaited Loya Jirga would bring to conclusion negotiations on the bilateral security agreement (BSA), a senior US official on Thursday ruled out complete withdrawal from the country post 2014.
"There is no question of (full) US withdrawal from Afghanistan from the table. I think the United States is going to be there, is going to be engaged and is going to be supporting the Afghan people through transition," a senior Obama administration official.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the US would be working with regional countries in an attempt to create trade and commerce, economic and energy linkages for the sake of prosperity and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large.
Ahead of the Loya Jirga in Kabul later this month, the official exuded confidence the meeting bring to conclusion negotiations on BSA. "I am confident the United States is not withdrawing from the region. I know that we are working very hard to conclude the BSA and that we will have some presence in the region."
He insisted: "I think, that there is no a question here that the US is walking away. We are in fact very actively engaged across all realms of endeavour that we can be," the official asserted, reflecting the sense of the Obama administration in this regard.
Responding to questions on the post-2014 troop presence, he ruled out the zero option. "I do not think that is (zero troop presence) the option that we are looking for. I think we are going to continue to be there. We are going to continue to provide assistance, continue to be there to be engaged diplomatically."
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