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"Some" U.S. forces may remain in Afghanistan after 2014: envoy

10-11-2011 10:02 BJT

BEIJING, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- "Some" American forces are likely to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when security responsibilities are scheduled to be handed over to the Afghan government, a U.S. special envoy said Monday amid a worsening security situation in the war-torn country.

"First of all, the United States will follow the guidelines established by NATO in Lisbon last year, which stated that at the end of 2014, the security responsibility for Afghanistan will belong to the Afghans," said Marc Grossman, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Grossman is on a 12-nation tour ahead of a November conference in Istanbul and a December conference in Bonn to "build support for the vision of a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan in a stable, secure and prosperous region" from Sept. 30 to Oct. 14, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

Grossman said the U.S. government is negotiating with the Afghan side to create a strategic partnership document regarding post-2014 relations.

"It is possible that in that document there will be space for some American forces to be left in Afghanistan after 2014 to engage in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics and continue to train Afghan forces," Grossman said.

"But that will be up to the Afghans," Grossman added.

Grossman's remarks may indicate a readjustment to the United States' earlier plan to pull soldiers out of Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced in June that 10,000 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of this year and another 23,000 will return home by September 2012. The U.S.'s ultimate goal is to transfer lead security responsibility to the Afghan forces by 2014.

The possible readjustment may cause opposition from Russia.

Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said last week that Russia will not agree to a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the expiration of a U.N. Security Council mandate.

Rogozin told reporters that the United States' offer to train armed forces in Afghanistan serves only as a "pretext for preserving their military presence."

"This is something we have never agreed with. Afghanistan should be free from foreign interference in its internal affairs, and therefore the coalition forces should only perform the duties mandated by the U.N. Security Council in 2001," Rogozin said.

During the interview, Grossman admitted that the security situation across Afghanistan is bad while hailing the "considerable" progress made in the country in terms of politics, economics and education ten years after the start of the U.S.-led operation to overthrow the Taliban.

A total of 1,462 Afghan civilians were killed in the first half of 2011, up 15 percent from the same period in 2010, according to a mid-year report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released on July 14.

The fragility of the security situation in Afghanistan has also been demonstrated by targeted killing organized by anti-government insurgents, which has eliminated over a dozen high-profile government functionaries and pro-government figures, including President Hamid Karzai's younger brother Ahmad Wali Karzai and former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, over the past nine months.

"As our president said, and I think anyone would say, there is still some work to do. There are still terrible attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan. There is still fighting yet to do with American forces (and its) allied forces against the insurgents," Grossman said.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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