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PublishDate: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:38

US envoy doubts complete Afghan withdrawal

We talk about the zero option — that’s not an option for the United States,” said James Dobbins, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A US envoy on Tuesday dismissed suggestions that Washington would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan after next year, saying that both countries wanted to preserve a smaller force.

Aides to US President Barack Obama earlier this year openly mulled the so-called “zero option” of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan once US troops end their combat role in 2014.

“We talk about the zero option — that’s not an option for the United States,” said James Dobbins, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “It’s obviously an option for the Afghans — If they don’t want anybody, we’re not going to stay. But I don’t think that’s an option the Afghans are likely to choose,” he said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Dobbins said he expected “several thousand American forces and several thousand non-American Nato forces” in 2015 and beyond. Roughly 100,000 foreign troops now serve in Afghanistan, two-thirds of them from the United States. Obama has pledged to the war-weary US public to end the country’s longest-ever war, which was launched to fight al-Qaeda and their Taliban allies after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Some analysts have called the public discussion of the “zero option” part of a US strategy to press Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has had uneven relations with the Obama administration, to assume more responsibility for security. (The News)

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