Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry defended President Barack Obama`s newly announced strategy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan amidst much criticism, media reported.
"The president set a timetable. He said that we will transfer security responsibility to the Afghans by such and such a date. That was last year and this year, predominately, we`ve done it," Kerry said Thursday.
"They had a very successful election, and they provided the security and they did the planning and they did the execution. That is exactly what the president is now trying to do with respect to the final steps," Kerry said.
Obama said the US will keep 9,800 troops in the war-ravaged country beyond the end of combat operations this year, with all remaining troops to be pulled out by the end of 2016, after which security duties will be handed over to Afghan forces.
But many argue that the timetable is arbitrary and not based on events on the ground.
Some even say the deadline is a means by which Obama can promote his legacy and get credit for ending not only the war in Iraq but also the US conflict in Afghanistan.
Speaking about recent comments from former vice president Dick Cheney that the Obama plan was unwise and would reinforce perceptions of US weakness, Kerry said he was "not surprised to hear from Dick Cheney something that`s obviously, number one, negative, and number two, wrong".
"Dick Cheney was completely wrong about Iraq, and we are still struggling with the aftermath of what Dick Cheney and his crew thought was the right policy to go in and start a war of choice for the wrong reasons," Kerry said, referring to the US war in Iraq.