US does not rule out complete pullout from Afghanistan after 2014
Published on Jan 9, 2013 6:04 AM
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Obama administration does not rule out a complete withdrawal of United States (US) troops from Afghanistan after 2014, the White House said on Tuesday, just days before President Barack Obama is due to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The comments by US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes were the first signal that, despite initial recommendations by the top military commander in Afghanistan to keep as many as 15,000 troops in the country, the final decision may be to remove everyone, as happened in Iraq in 2011.
Asked about consideration of a so-called zero-option once the Nato combat mission ends at the end of 2014, Mr Rhodes said: "That would be an option that we would consider."
"Because again, the president does not view these negotiations as having a goal of keeping US troops in Afghanistan," he added, saying the objective was to ensure the training and equipping of Afghan forces and combating Al-Qaeda.
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