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White House denies reviewing options for further withdrawal from Afghanistan

03-14-2012 08:28 BJT

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Tuesday denied a report saying the U.S. is weighing options for further troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in the aftermath of a shooting spree by a U.S. soldier that killed 16 Afghan civilians.

"There is not a discussion about specific numbers or specific options (for further troop withdrawal) at this time. It's simply not accurate," White House press secretary Jay Carney said at his daily briefing.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration is discussing whether to accelerate the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, possibly by at least an additional 20, 000 troops by 2013.

Just under 90,000 American troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan, with 23,000 of them due home by September. There has been no schedule set for the withdrawal of the remaining troops, though the president has set 2014 as the deadline for pulling out all troops and handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces.

"We will continue to withdraw U.S. forces ... the pace of that withdrawal has not been decided," Carney said. "And I think it's important to understand that in spite of recent events, the strategy is a broad-based strategy."

The weekend shooting spree, along with the violent protests by Afghans over the burning of Qurans by NATO troops last month, has put the Obama administration's Afghan strategy into question.

Carney said that there will not be an announcement of additional troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in the NATO summit in Chicago in May, though he said "the nature of our deployment in Afghanistan, how that deployment will look beyond the end of the withdrawal of the surge forces" will be discussed there.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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