US not to pull out of Afghanistan: Kerry

Sartaj Aziz (R), Pakistan’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, laughs after his press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Islamabad, August 1, 2013.

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 on Thursday.

Speaking alongside Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on foreign affairs, Kerry told reporters that the US will maintain a significant military presence in Afghanistan far beyond the 2014 deadline.

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.

In May, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his government was ready to let the US set up nine bases across Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

President Karzai recently said his government would only sign the deal if it led to a stronger, safer, and more united Afghanistan. Kabul has, however, suspended the official talks.

In the meantime, Abdul Karim Khoram, the presidential chief of staff, warned that Kabul will have to pay a heavy price for giving military bases to the United States.

Many Afghans believe that the US is envisaging permanent military bases there.

Afghan political groups have warned that things will get worse should the US set up permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

Afghan political figures have also heaped scorn on US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since invading the country in 2001.

Thousands of Afghan civilians, including a large number of women and children, have been killed during the night raids by foreign forces and CIA-run assassination drone strikes.

The increasing number of casualties in Afghanistan has caused widespread anger against the US and other NATO member states, undermining public support for the Afghan war.

JR/KA

Republished from: Press TV