Washington: The United States does not seek a permanent military base in Afghanistan, the White House has said, strongly refuting the claims made in this regard by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"The United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and any US presence after 2014 would only be at the invitation of the Afghanistan government and aimed at training the country`s forces and targeting the remnants of al Qaeda," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a gaggle with reporters travelling with the US President to Texas yesterday.
"As we have said, we envision that the bilateral security agreement will address access to and use of Afghanistan facilities by US forces. We seek no permanent military bases in Afghanistan. We`ve been very clear about that," he said.
Carney was responding to questions on the statement made by Karzai, a day earlier in which he claimed that the US is seeking to have nine military bases in Afghanistan, and he is opposed to it.
"We seek no permanent bases. Any continued presence of US forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014 would be subject to an agreement between the Afghanistan government and the US government, and would only be at the request of the Afghanistan government, and would only be for the purposes that I just mentioned," he said.
Carney said US President Barack Obama has made no decision on the post 2014 troop levels.
"This is an ongoing process. We are in the process of drawing down forces in keeping with the President`s commitment and policy, together with our partners, and turning over gradually full security lead to Afghan forces," he said.
Taking a similar stand that the United States is not seeking any military bases, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters at another news conference the US envisions that the bilateral security agreement will address access to and use of Afghan facilities by US forces.
"The bilateral security agreement is still being negotiated. We have a lead negotiator here at the State Department. We`re not going to get into the details of those negotiations that are ongoing, but they continue," he said.
"I think we`d just say that this is the access and use of Afghan facilities by US forces. This is in terms of us changing our presence in Afghanistan. We are obviously going into 2014 as this goes to a full Afghan lead, as we work through our civilian and our development assistance," Ventrell said.