US mulls leaving no American troops behind in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON – Reuters
AFP PhotoThe United States is considering leaving no American troops behind in Afghanistan after the planned 2014 withdrawal date, U.S. officials said on July 8, amid ongoing tensions between the President Barack Obama’s administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.
Obama is committed to wrapping up U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but the United States has been talking with officials in Afghanistan about keeping a small residual force there of perhaps 8,000 troops after next year.
U.S. officials did not deny a report in the New York Times that Obama has become increasingly frustrated by his dealings with Karzai, with their fraying relationship falling to new depths after last month’s U.S. move to open peace talks with the Taliban.
A June 27 video conference between Obama and Karzai aimed at lowering tensions ended poorly, the Times reported on its website, citing U.S. and Afghan officials with knowledge of the conversation.
The Times reported that Karzai accused the United States of trying to forge a separate peace with the Taliban and its Pakistani supporters in an arrangement that would expose Karzai’s government to its enemies.
Since the video conference, a full military pullout from Afghanistan has been transformed from a “worst-case scenario” to an option “under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul,” the Times reported.
Asked about the Times report, one senior Obama administration official said: “All options remain on the table but a decision is far from made.”