US General refuse to budge on Afghan mission

The US military mission in Afghanistan remains unchanged by the death of Osama bin Laden.

Washington: The US military mission in Afghanistan remains unchanged by the death of Osama bin Laden, the number two US general there said on Thursday, amid growing political pressure to hasten the pullout.

"Our objectives remain the same: to deny al Qaeda sanctuary and prevent the Taliban from retaking Afghanistan," Lieutenant General David Rodriguez told a videoconference in Washington.

"And by the way, the death of Osama bin Laden has not changed that mission, and we have not seen any effects of his death on the ground to date in Afghanistan."

US President Barack Obama is coming under increasing pressure from Congress to speed up the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan in the wake of the May 02 Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan.

It is nearly 10 years since US-led forces invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime, which had been harbouring bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader who orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

NATO`s International Security Assistance Force has around 130,000 service personnel deployed in the war-torn country, around 90,000 of whom are from the United States.

Obama has set July 2011 as the start date for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, and the end of 2014 as the time when US and NATO forces must transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

With polls showing that much of the US public is weary of the war, the Obama administration has in recent months played down the prospect of a military solution in Afghanistan and called for a political settlement.

"We have managed to guide the Afghan security forces to focus in the right places... We have to start taking more risk and have more trust in them," Rodriguez said.

Bureau Report

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