US may pullout all troops from Afghanistan by 2014
By Meena Haseeb - Wed Jan 09 2013, 9:49 am
The comments by Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, come as the Pentagon and White House mull over the number of troops that could be left in Afghanistan after 2014 to fight insurgents and train Afghan security forces.
The official, however, stressed that the administration remains committed to preventing the country from becoming a haven for al-Qaeda.
The comments on Tuesday came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai headed to Washington for talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama.
“The US does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan,” said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes yesterday.
“We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient to ensure the stability of the Afghan government.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama are scheduled to meet on Friday in Washington but Rhodes said there were no expectations of any deal on post-2014 troop levels during the Karzai visit, and he said it could be months before any decision was made.
US and international forces anticipate ending combat missions in Afghanistan this year, before moving to a training role with local forces until the end of 2014.
Officials have said the White House appears to favour keeping fewer than 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan, but until now the administration has not said publicly it is considering a so-called zero option.