AfghanistanAsia-Pacific

Dunford: US has no plans to leave Afghanistan

Dunford

A senior US commander in Afghanistan says Washington has no plans to leave the country while Kabul has not yet signed a security deal to allow US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

General Joseph Dunford told reporters on Thursday that the US wants its troops and other foreign soldiers to remain in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal deadline.

He also called on Afghan authorities to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) as soon as possible. The deal will allow thousands of US troops to stay in Afghanistan for up to a decade beyond 2014.

The Afghan government has refused to sign the deal so far, saying US-led forces must face justice inside the country upon committing a crime. Kabul also wants the US to conduct night raids under Afghan authority. But, Washington has rejected these demands.

Last year, the administration of US President Barack Obama extended the deadline for signing the agreement to January despite an earlier ultimatum that the deal must be signed by the end of December.

Both Pentagon officials and US senators have urged the Afghan government to sign the agreement.

Last week, senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and John Barrasso, who were on an official trip to Afghanistan, threatened Kabul that its refusal to sign the deal would have a “negative impact.”

US officials’ efforts to force the Afghan government to sign the agreement come as a recent CNN/ORC International survey shows America’s longest war has become its most unpopular one as well.

The poll, released in late December, indicates that support for the war in Afghanistan among Americans has dipped to just 17 percent and that a majority of Americans would like to see US troops pulled out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 withdrawal deadline.

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