Saturday, December 5, 2009

US withdrawal from Afghanistan: Indian advice ignored by President Obama

Assuring India that the US has no intention of leaving Afghanistan in a hurry, a top official has said President Barack Obama's decision to start pulling out in 2011 indicated no disagreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advise to stay the course there.

"The president and the prime minister did have discussions about this" during Manmohan Singh's state visit here last week, Obama's National Security Advisor General James Jones told reporters Friday. "The US has no intention of leaving Afghanistan in the near future, certainly not in 2011," he said when asked if the pullout decision indicated a disagreement with Manmohan Singh's assessment that a premature talk of exit would only encourage terrorists.

"And we are very confident that by the application of over 100,000 US troops and a significant increase of NATO and non-NATO contributing countries we would be able to achieve the conditions by which the Afghans can take more responsibility for the conduct of their internal affairs," Jones said.

That would allow the US to be able to start to bring some of its troops home, "the rate at which it will happen would be conditioned obviously on the situation on the ground," he said. "But when you have a situation like this it simply can't be that this is going to go on for ever."

Obama had decided "to focus everybody's attention on a reasonable time frame in which we can see real change Jones said. "And on not there has been no disagreement." On the contrary to "put it positively there has been full agreement on this with Obama's military and civilian advisors as also the international community."

"So I'll take it as a positive not a negative," Jones said. "If we would do our job right between now and then this will have a good result."

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