Washington: US President Barack Obama was likely to announce the drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan on Wednesday, senior administration officials said.
However, the White House insisted that Obama has made no decision so far, but said the decision on it would be made “very soon”.
“The president is still in the process of finalizing his decision on the pace and scope of the drawdown that will begin in July of 2011,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
“He (Obama) is finalizing his decision. He’s reviewing the options and the assessments and will have an announcement to make soon,” he said in response to a question.
Diplomats from various countries in the knowhow of information being shared by the Obama Administration, said the withdrawal was likely to be equivalent to the 30,000 surge announced by Obama in December 2009.
Currently there are about 100,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan.
Obama’s top commander for Afghanistan, General David Patraeus, is in Washington this week, giving rise to the speculation that the announcement is imminent. The Pentagon too refused to entertain questions related to the announcement.
“He (Obama) has had a number of consultations with his national security team, all members from, obviously, his uniform command, his civilian leadership, rather, all the principals on the national security team. He is continuing those consultations and will have an announcement soon,” Carney said.
He said there has been significant progress in disrupting or halting the momentum of the Taliban and in stabilizing Afghanistan and the government to allow Afghan national security forces to build up, to train and prepare for taking over the lead.
“We have made significant progress towards achieving those goals. Obviously, the most sensational and significant data point in that progress, of that progress, is the elimination of Osama bin Laden. But, there has been enormous progress in disrupting and dismantling al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region beyond and below Laden,” the official said.
“So he looks at this decision as a part of a process, of a policy he put in motion in December of 2009. He said at the time that he would begin the drawdown of the surge forces in July of 2011. That will happen; the pace and scope of that will depend on his assessment of how far we have come in achieving the goals that he set out,” he added. Zeenews