News / Asia

Obama Meets Advisers on Afghanistan, Pakistan

President Barack Obama (File Photo)
President Barack Obama (File Photo)

President Barack Obama has met with his national security team to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Monday's meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan advisers group came amid reports that some officials are urging a larger drawdown of U.S. forces beginning next month.

After Monday's nearly two-hour meeting, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the decision President Obama will make about the size of the July drawdown was not a specific item on the agenda.

The president was briefed on progress in implementing his Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy following the death of Osama bin Laden, and on efforts to ensure "effective cooperation with Pakistan against al-Qaida and other violent extremists."

Mr. Obama has not yet received recommendations from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates  and Afghanistan commander General David Petraeus about the size of the July drawdown or what kind of forces will be involved.  Carney said once that decision is made, Mr. Obama will report it to the American people, but the form or venue is still not known.

There are about 90,000 American troops in Afghanistan forming the bulk of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  This includes the 30,000 soldiers President Obama sent in 2010 as part of a surge aimed at turning back Taliban advances.

Aside from Mr. Obama, 26 officials participated in Monday's session, including Defense Secretary Gates, who reported via video link on his just-completed farewell tour in Afghanistan.  Gates favors a more modest drawdown of forces.

The meeting came amid a report that some officials are pushing for a sharper drawdown in July.  The New York Times quoted unnamed officials as citing the financial costs to the United States of the war, already the longest in U.S. history, and the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as among the factors justifying a larger troop withdrawal in July.

Jay Carney pushed back a bit on one aspect of that report. While every decision is made with the question of cost in mind, he said, Mr. Obama's decision will focus primarily on U.S. national security interests.  Carney asserted that there is not a great deal of debate about the impending decision. "This decision about the size of the initial drawdown is one in keeping with the decision the president made back in December of 2009. There is not enormous debate about this, despite some reporting to the contrary," he said.

President Obama has said the start of the U.S. drawdown would be based on conditions in Afghanistan, where the United States and NATO have set a goal of completing the transfer of all security responsibilities to Afghan government forces by 2014.  

This past April, the president spoke about U.S. objectives. "In Afghanistan, we are moving into a new phase, transferring responsibility for security to Afghan forces, starting to reduce American forces this summer, and building a long-term partnership with the Afghan people," he said.

Mr. Obama also faces pressure from lawmakers on the left of his Democratic party, who favor scaling back foreign military operations because of their cost.

California Democrat Lynn Woolsey raised the issue of war costs while debating Republicans over government spending cuts. "You believe in fiscal discipline, and you think everything should be on the table.  Then let's talk about saving $10 billion a month by ending the war in Afghanistan, and let's bring our troops home from Iraq, and Afghanistan," she said.

Key Republicans opposed attempts to put Congress on record favoring a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.   

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke earlier this year against a resolution calling for a withdrawal of all U.S. forces. "To withdraw from Afghanistan at this point before we finish the job is to pave the way for the next 9/11," she said.

White House spokesman Carney told reporters Monday that President Obama would make his decision on the July drawdown "relatively soon." He quoted President Obama as saying during a television interview on Monday that this will be "a summer of transition" in Afghanistan.

Carney told reporters that there will be no precipitous withdrawal of U.S. or international forces, saying the July troop decision will be the "beginning of a process."

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid