`No deadline` for Afghan troop withdrawal: US envoy

US envoy to Kabul has said no deadline exists for withdrawing US’ Afghan troops from and recommitted the US to helping build the competence of Afghan forces.

Updated: Dec 17, 2009, 16:06 PM IST

Kabul: Washington`s ambassador to Kabul
said today no deadline exists for withdrawing US troops from
Afghanistan and recommitted the US to helping build the
capacity and competence of Afghan security forces.

US forces would begin a "gradual and responsible
transition" in July 2011 conditional on the readiness of
Afghanistan`s own police and army to take over the security of
their war-battered country, Karl Eikenberry said.

"US combat forces will start to return from
Afghanistan in July 2011. It is not a deadline, despite what
some in both the United States and Afghanistan have said," he
told a gathering of senior Afghan officials and mostly Western

"Our troops will begin a gradual and responsible
transition in 2011, taking into account the conditions on the
ground and Afghanistan`s ability to handle its security
requirements," he said.

US President Barack Obama has pledged an extra 30,000
troops to bolster the 71,000 already fighting a Taliban-led
insurgency that has become more virulent and deadly in the
past year.

In a major speech unveiling a new fast-track war
strategy, Obama said the surge would see troops in Afghanistan
"seize the initiative" to end the unpopular war and begin
pulling out in July 2011.