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US Considering 'Zero Option' for Afghanistan in 2014

The White House says President Barack Obama is considering pulling all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but that all options are still on the table.

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday said the so-called "zero option" is one of several possible plans for post-war Afghanistan. But he said no decision is imminent and he noted that the end of 2014 is still 18 months away.

The New York Times newspaper reported Tuesday that Mr. Obama is giving serious consideration to pulling all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan because of frustration in dealing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The Times said Mr. Obama may speed up the timetable for leaving Afghanistan, and that the bulk of U.S. forces could be home by the middle of next year.

Current plans call for leaving a residual force in Afghanistan after most U.S. troops pull out by the end of 2014.

Carney played down the report of animosity between Presidents Obama and Karzai. He said the two leaders speak periodically and disagreements are common. But Carney said there is a consensus that the future for Afghanistan is a stable, demonstrative and secure country.

Mr. Karzai has criticized recent U.S. attempts to open separate peace talks with the Taliban.

Also Tuesday, a Taliban official says the militant group has stopped using its new office in the Qatari capital, Doha, in protest of the removal of Taliban symbols from the facility.

The Talban opened the office with a white flag and a plaque declaring it the office of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" -- the same name the Taliban used when it governed Afghanistan until a U.S.-led invasion toppled it in 2001.

Qatari authorities quickly removed the flag and sign after Afghan President Hamid Karzai objected to the symbols. He called it an attempt to create a rival Taliban government.