News / Asia

Petraeus Plans for Start of US Withdrawal from Afghanistan Next Year

The commander of U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan said Thursday that he has asked his officers to provide "initial assessments" of where he can begin to "thin out" his forces. U.S. Army General David Petraeus made the comment to a small group of reporters only days after receiving the last of the American surge forces President Barack Obama ordered to the country.

General Petraeus said he asked his staff to make plans to reduce their forces in relatively stable areas, as he prepares for a progress report he must give to NATO leaders at their summit in two months.

"Commanders are providing input - still very early days, very initial assessments. And that's what we're working on at the moment, providing that up the chain of command. And then as we get closer and closer to Lisbon we'll refine that each month, add to the granularity of it, and then hope to have the best projects that we can by the time of Lisbon," he said.

Petraeus is up against a deadline set by President Obama to begin a U.S. troop withdrawal next July. He also faces impatience from many European nations with troops here, even though the last of the surge forces only arrived during the last few days. The general indicated he does not expect to send home large units or to hand over large areas to Afghan security control. Rather, he said, at the beginning of the process, he will do what the United States did in Iraq and elsewhere - gradually reduce the U.S. troop presence in specific areas.

"You thin out, you don't just sort of hand them the baton and say, 'It's yours,'" he said.

U.S. officials say the initial withdrawal will be small and that additional drawdowns will be based on security conditions in each part of the country.

Petraeus indicated that the Afghan government's efforts to reintegrate Taliban fighters into society is beginning to move forward, with more than 100 fighters signing up for the program even before it became official in recent days. He acknowledged the numbers are small so far. But he said the more difficult process of reconciliation with Taliban leaders is also showing signs of life.

"The prospect for reconciliation with senior Taliban leaders certainly looms out there. And there have been approaches at very senior levels that hold some promise. And President Karzai's 'red lines' have been very clear on this, and those are certainly ones that we support," the general said.

Those "red lines," or non-negotiable conditions, include recognizing the constitution and the authority of the government, and pledging not to engage in violence.

Petraeus also said that despite recent tensions over several issues, including what many officials in the United States see as inadequate Afghan efforts to fight corruption, his relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is good.

"I think it's a relationship in which there is candor. We do not always come at every issue from the same perspective. But I think that's a reflection of the strength of the relationship, rather than anything else," he said.

Petraeus said both sides are concerned about issues such as civilian casualties and the need to improve the justice system. But he acknowledged that they do not always have the same priorities or specific plans.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs