U.S. Not Seeking Permanent Bases in Afghanistan: White House
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Thursday refuted President Hamid Karzai’s remarks on America’s demand for nine military bases in Afghanistan, saying it had no intention to have a permanent presence in the South Asian country. US troops would stay in Afghanistan after 2014, when all foreign combat forces are to leave, only at Kabul’s invitation, a White House spokesman said, hours after Karzai spoke of America’s demand.
“Any US presence after 2014 would only be at the invitation of the Afghanistan government and aimed at training Afghan forces and targeting the remnants of al Qaeda,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Responding to questions on Karzai’s statement, he said: “We envision the bilateral security agreement will address access to and use of Afghan facilities by US forces. We seek no permanent military bases. We’ve been very clear about that.”
Any continued presence of US forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014 would be subject to an agreement between the two governments, the White House official reiterated. Carney said US President Barack Obama had made no decision on post-2014 troop levels. “This is an ongoing process. We are in the process of drawing down forces in keeping with the president’s commitment and policy, together with our partners, and turning over gradually full security lead to Afghan forces.”
Taking a similar stand, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters at another news conference the US envisioned the bilateral security agreement would facilitate the use of Afghan facilities by US forces. “The bilateral security agreement is still being negotiated. We have a lead negotiator here at the State Department. We’re not going to get into the details of those negotiations that are ongoing, but they continue,” he continued. Ventrell insisted the US was not talking about leaving thousands of US forces in Afghanistan in perpetuity. (PAN)