India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid says the view that the US is going to withdraw from Afghanistan is a bit exaggerated, since their troops will remain in at least six bases currently prepared for them.
In an interview with Russia Today, Khurshid said the US is in discussion with Afghanistan for a bilateral security agreement, which would mandate a significant number of the US troops to be retained in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
“They would obviously have a very restricted operation mandate but they would still be there for purposes of training and, perhaps, to add some kind of guarantee and ballast to the security forces of Afghanistan itself,” he added.
Referring to Taliban participation in upcoming peace talks, Khurshid said we have strongly advocated that the future of Afghanistan must be Afghan-driven, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, therefore we must respect the Afghan point of view to the extent that they believe an outreach to some elements in Taliban is going to be wholesome and useful for stability to their political system in the future.
Earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington has no plan to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan even after the 2014 pullout deadline.
“We are drawing down, not withdrawing,” Kerry said in a press conference in Islamabad.
Kerry said he was confident that the US authorities will reach agreement with Afghanistan on the future level of troops.
Washington had promised to withdraw all combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014. However, it has been locked in tricky negotiations with Kabul over a strategic partnership beyond 2014.