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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora