`No deadline` for Afghan troop withdrawal: US envoy
Last Updated: Thursday, December 17, 2009, 16:06
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 diplomats.

"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.


First Published: Thursday, December 17, 2009, 16:06

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