US plays down Karzai`s order to confine US troops

US said it plans shift to support role in Afghanistan by 2013 so as to complete the security transition to Afghan forces by 2014.

Washington: The US on Thursday said it plans to
shift to "support role" in Afghanistan by 2013 so as to
complete the security transition to Afghan forces by 2014 even
as it sought to play down President Hamid Karzai order to pull
out American troops from villages and confine them to bases.

The US plans to shift to "support role" by 2013, White
House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, adding it would
complete the security transition to the security forces of
Afghanistan by 2014.

At the same time, Carney said there can be no resolution
of the current situation in Afghanistan without a political
resolution. However, he reiterated that that the US supports
an Afghan-led political reconciliation process.

The US today tried to playdown President Karzai`s order
in Kabul in which he asked Washington to pull out all its
troops from Afghan villages and confine them to bases.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the statement
of Afghan President on early troop pullback from the country
reflects his strong interest in moving as quickly as possible
to a fully independent and sovereign Afghanistan.

"The Secretary (of Defense) has seen President Karzai`s
statement. He believes it reflects President Karzai`s strong
interest in moving as quickly as possible to a fully
independent and sovereign Afghanistan," Little said in a

"The Secretary also believes that we have made good
progress thus far in both security gains and transition, and
that it is important for us to remain focused on those efforts
in the months ahead," he said.

He said Panetta enjoyed a very detailed and productive
set of discussions in Afghanistan with Interior Minister
Mohammadi, Defense Minister Wardak and President Karzai.

"These discussions reaffirmed our shared goal of
achieving an Afghanistan that can govern and secure itself on
the timeframe agreed to at Lisbon," Little said.

White House Press Secretary Carney told reporters at his
daily news conference that America’s Afghan strategy is to
draw down forces from Afghanistan, which is being done right
now and at the end of this summer some 33,000 US troops would
return home.

"Our strategy is to shift to a support role in 2013 and
complete the transition in 2014. That kind of transition
involves a change in the foot print," Carney said when asked
about Karzai asking American troops to pull out of outposts in
villages and return to their main bases.

He said the challenge in Afghanistan has been and would
continue to be difficult.

"We have met with success in ultimately defeating Al
Qaeda...... We are withdrawing US troops, would continue to do
that, would continue to take the fight to al Qaeda in the
region. We will finish the security transition by 2014 as was
decided in Lisbon," Carney said.

He underlined that the US has had some indisputable
success in achieving its objective in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland
told reporters that the US would continue to play a supportive
role in talks with the Taliban.

"Our goal here was to facilitate their ability to talk
and maybe someday dance together. So our goal is to work
ourselves out of a job if we possibly can," she said when
asked about the latest statement from the Taliban they are
withdrawing from the peace talks.

The Taliban today said it had suspended contacts with the
US in Qatar, just days after an American shooting spree left
16 Afghans dead, dealing a blow to hopes of a peace process.

"We still feel that if there is a process that can be
supported, that we ought to do that. We remain prepared to
continue these discussions. Our only goal is to get Afghans to
sit down together," Nuland said.

She said this process has had a lot of ups and downs and
are really "only preliminary". But she underlined that "it`s
only going to work if you have Taliban participants who are
willing to do what`s necessary".


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