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US not leaving war-torn Afghanistan in near future

December 05, 2009 09:30 IST

Amid conflict reports on pulling out its troops from Afghanistan, the US made it clear that it has no intention of leaving the war-torn country in the near future and "certainly not in 2011".

"The United States has no intention of leaving Afghanistan in the near future, certainly not in 2011," US National Security Advisor General (retired) James Jones told journalists in response to a question that President Obama's statement on withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would start from July 2011 has created confusion in the region.

"We are very confident that by the application of over 100,000 US troops and a significant increase in the NATO (North AtlanticTreaty Organisation) and non-NATO contributing countries, we will be able to achieve the conditions by which Afghans will be able to take more responsibility for the conduct of their internal affairs," he said, adding that will allow us to start bringing some of our troops home.

He said that the rate at which the troops would return would be conditioned on the situation on the ground.

"But when you have a mission like this, it simply can not be that it's just going to go on forever. And the president has decided to focus everyone's attention on a reasonable time frame in which we can see real change," he said.

"And on that, there has been no disagreement. There has been full agreement on the part of the military advisers to the president, the civilian advisers, and also in the international community," Jones said.

In response to another question, Jones said the words "US troops will leave in 2011" were inaccurate.

"The president has said that in July of 2011 we expect to have achieved a certain degree of success along the areas, which include reversing any perceived momentum that the insurgency may have in Afghanistan -- in such a way that we will begin to be able to transition," he said.

"That transition will be that Afghans will be able to begin to take control of more of their own affairs, especially in the security aspect. We will begin that transition, and that is very clear," he said.

"So it's important that everybody understand, at least from a US perspective, that it did not mean that we will leave in 2011.

"It just means that that will be a transition point where we will begin to pull -- be able to pull some of our forces back and turn over some of the responsibilities to the Afghans themselves," Jones said.

"If we can dislodge and dismantle and in my view destroy the safe havens, in closer partnership with the army of Pakistan, then I think you have a strategic change in the entire region that bodes well for the future, because once insurgencies are on the run and they don't have the illusion of sanctuary or the reality of sanctuary, then you have a completely different problem. And it's much more manageable," he said.
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