President Barack Obama has met top Afghanistan war advisors amid uncertainty about the presence of US troops in the war-torn country post 2014 with Hamid Karzai government’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement demanded by America.
Obama had a “useful and constructive” meet with his defence leadership and while he continues to “weigh inputs” from military officials he has not yet made decisions regarding the presence of US troops post 2014, the White House said.
“The President continues to weigh inputs from military officials, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats, and development experts, and has not yet made decisions regarding the post-2014 US presence,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
Obama met with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey and commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, among other top officials, Carney said.
The US ramping up pressure on the Karzai government has said that decisions on troops will be “contingent upon a BSA being signed” but President Karzai has refused to sign it arguing that it needs to be signed by the new president.
“Decisions about what a 2014 presence might look like to achieve the two narrowly defined missions of counterterrorism and training Afghan forces is contingent upon the Afghan government signing the bilateral security agreement that we negotiated last year in good faith. And our issues with the status of that BSA remain as they were,” Carney said.
Carney said Afghanistan needs to sign BSA as soon as possible.
“I can tell you that, as each day passes and we move further into this calendar year, it becomes more imperative that the Afghan government signed the agreement that was negotiated in good faith so that NATO and the United States can make plans for a post-2014 troop presence. Absent a signed BSA, there will be no and can be no US troops beyond 2014,” he said.
“So I think it’s abundantly clear that we believe it ought to be signed quickly, that it (BSA) was negotiated in good faith, it was endorsed by the loya jirga, and we have been calling on the Afghan government to sign the agreement for some time now…” Carney said.
The US, he said, can’t wait for the next Afghan President to sign the BSA.
“This is not about who’s the President. This is about planning for 2014. And we are already into February…We can’t wait months, as I’ve been saying. This has to be a matter of weeks,” he insisted.
Carney added that decision to be made on the troop numbers will be “contingent upon a BSA being signed”.