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

Multimedia Baltimore 'Victory Rally' Follows Charges in Detainee Death

Saturday's rally is largest organized gathering since state's attonrey filed felony charges in police-custody death of Freddie Gray More

UN Denies Child Sex Abuse Cover Up in CAR

UNHCR says senior official suspected of leaking report suspended for breaching rules More

Nepal Officials Slammed Over Aid Response

VOA News has compiled from various organizations complaints from across Nepal of bottlenecks at customs, repeated harassing inspections of aid convoys and seizure of goods 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs