Washington: The US would draw down troop levels in Afghanistan to about 5,500 by the end of this year and after that any decision in this regard would be taken by the next US president, the White House said on Wednesday.
"The scenario that we envision right now is that we would essentially draw down troop levels to about 5,500 troops by the end of this year," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
"Moving forward, the next commander in chief and his or her national security team, taking advice from our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan, will have to determine what sort of troop presence is appropriate for that country moving forward," Earnest said.
He was responding to questions on reports that US troops would be in Afghanistan for a long period. "What the President envisions is a continued decrease in that number, but ultimately, it's a decision for the next president," he said. The next US president would take office on January 20, 2017.
"What is clear, though, again, is that our goal was to destroy the core al Qaeda cell that had planned and supported the worst terrorist attack on American soil back in 2001. And that objective was achieved," the White House spokesman asserted.
Noting that the US has envisioned a long-term partnership with the government of Afghanistan, Earnest said America's commitment to economic development and shoring up their governing structures was a long-term commitment.