US President Barack Obama granted Afghan requests to slow down the drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan, Reuters reported.
Obama said Tuesday he would maintain a force of 9,800 until the end of this year while sticking to the plan for a 2017 exit.
He told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House that the US force would be kept at its existing strength to train and assist Afghan forces, who took over responsibility for the fight against Taliban and other Islamic militants at the start of the year.
Obama said the pace of the US troop reduction next year would be established later this year and the goal remained to consolidate US forces in the country in a presence at the Kabul embassy at the end of next year.
Under a previous plan, US forces were to have been cut to about half of the current level by the end of this year, but US officials said improved relations with Afghan leaders contributed to a revision of the plan.
“It was my assessment as commander in chief that it made sense for us to provide a few extra months for us to be able to help on things like logistics,” Obama said during a joint news conference with Ghani at the White House.
Since arriving on Sunday, Ghani has been feted by the administration and is due to address Congress on Wednesday.
The welcome contrasts sharply with frosty relations that developed between Washington and Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, the report said.
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