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US Considering 'Zero Option' for Afghanistan in 2014

US Says No Decision Yet on Afghanistan Troopsi
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July 09, 2013
The Pentagon says the United States has made no decision yet on how many troops to leave in Afghanistan after the scheduled 2014 deadline, but officials say they are considering the option of leaving no residual force at all. The Pentagon comment follows a New York Times report that President Obama is seriously considering a "zero option" after 2014. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Watch a related report by VOA's Luis Ramirez

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Kent Klein
— White House officials say the United States is considering removing all its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but that they have many other options.  Officials say the decision will not be made soon.
 
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Tuesday played down reports that President Barack Obama may pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan when American combat troops leave at the end of next year.

He said the so-called “zero option” is one of many possible plans for postwar Afghanistan, and that the president is under no pressure to decide soon.

“I want to make clear, today’s story notwithstanding, that this is not a decision that is imminent.  And we are talking about a residual force, a potential residual force, in a year and a half.  So these are ongoing conversations," said Carney.

Carney also played down a New York Times report that President Obama is giving new consideration to the “zero option” because he was frustrated after a contentious telephone conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in late June.

“Now, we have had disagreements in the past, and we will have them in the future, there is no question.  But the core agreement here is on a future in Afghanistan that is stable and democratic and secure," he said.

Carney said Obama had not spoken with the Afghan president since the teleconference, but that they were likely to speak again soon.

The Obama administration has discussed the possibility of the “zero option” for several months.  At a joint White House news conference with Karzai in January, the president responded to a question about a total U.S. troop pullout by saying Washington’s main objective in Afghanistan had been met.

“We achieved our central goal, which is - or have come very close to achieving our central goal, which is to de-capacitate al-Qaida, to dismantle them, to make sure that they cannot attack us again," said President Obama.

Also in January, the president’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, told reporters the administration would consider the zero option if all U.S. goals in Afghanistan are met.

“The objective of the bilateral security agreement negotiations is not to accomplish a number of U.S. troops in a country.  It is to accomplish the two goals of denying a safe haven to al-Qaida and training and equipping Afghan national security forces," said Rhodes.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday the United States will have clear objectives for its continued involvement in Afghanistan, and that those could be met with a residual force or by other means.

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by: Sam
July 09, 2013 11:16 AM
Good thinking - America and other Allies have given enough and many troops have made the supreme sacrifice. It is hoped that President Karzai and his Government understand what help they have received. Without it, they would not be where they are today.

In Response

by: Steve from: Australia
July 15, 2013 8:23 PM
The USA never 'helps' other countries , They merely use those countries to pursue the 'interests' of the USA . They care little for the lives of non Americans or the suffering they inflict . And in this they are backed by an truly ignorant and basely complacent US populus .


by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
July 09, 2013 10:19 AM
This is such a done deal. We are ought of there. No doubt about it.


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
July 09, 2013 8:05 AM
The zero option is the only realistic and valid option. Afghanistan needs to stand on its own, and its people need to secure their own homeland. The money and US lives saved, will go a long way in improving the relationship between the Afghan and US gvmts. A new development and security training agreement needs to be worked out, to include multiple Asian nations; and an international human rights, security, and defence centre may need to be established, to be located in one of the partner countries (India or Viet-Nam or Indonesia, or Philipines, etc..) , to help train personnel from the various partner nations. Development, Human Rights, Security, Terrorism,Drug Trade, etc are issues that need to be addressed across borders and in many nations; essentially a much broader approach may be beneficial to all, potentially modeled on the African Union, with US/NATO partners sharing/providing expertise.


by: Safdar Khan from: Frankfurt
July 09, 2013 6:37 AM
The politics of Central Asien states are the politics of restained and patient.The American Army,N.A.T.O and the afghan people have given tremendous sacrifices against blind terrorism to make the world safe for future generation.President Karsai have strong apprehension and suspicious against the neigh bouring players. The American presence in Afghanistan will secure the new fregeil democracy in Afghanistan and the stability of the whole region.

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