Complete pullout an option, Obama tells Karzai
WASHINGTON (PAN): US President Barack Obama on Tuesday called his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to inform him that Washington was moving ahead with additional contingency planning in Afghanistan after 2014.
“Obama told Karzai because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he would sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning,” the White House said in a statement.
Specifically, Obama asked the Pentagon to ensure that it had adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the US not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014, the White House added.
“At the same time, should we have a BSA and a willing and committed partner in the Afghan government, a limited post-2014 mission focused on training, advising and assisting Afghan forces and going after the remnants of core Al Qaeda could be in the interest of the United States and Afghanistan,” it said.
“Therefore, we will leave open the possibility of concluding a BSA with Afghanistan later this year. However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any US mission. Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 US mission will be smaller in scale and ambition,” the statement said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel quickly said the Pentagon would ensure adequate plans were in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year. "This is a prudent step given that President Karzai has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, which would provide DoD personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014.”
As the US military continues to move people and equipment out of the Afghan theater, its force posture over the next several months will provide various options for political leaders in the United States and NATO.
The White House Obama called Karzai to discuss preparations for Afghanistan’s elections, reconciliation efforts and the BSA. “The President welcomed the beginning of Afghanistan’s presidential campaign and affirmed the US support for a fair, credible, timely and Afghan-led process,” it said.
“As Afghans soon take the important step of heading to the election polls, they should know that the United States will be committed to supporting the Afghan security forces as they make preparations to secure the Afghan elections,” the White House said.
The two leaders noted the important role that independent Afghan electoral bodies would play in overseeing a historic transfer of power, and Obama reiterated that the United States would not support any candidate.
Karzai updated Obama regarding Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts, and the leaders noted that it was critical for regional countries to support a political solution to the conflict.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.