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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid