US to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan in 2015

Obama will keep 9,800 U.S. troops In Afghanistan through 2015, after Afghan President Ghani requested flexibility in drawdown plan.

Obama was planning to cut down the number of troops from the current 9,800 to 5,000 by the end of the year, withdrawing completely by the end of 2016. There are also 3,000 troops from other NATO countries.

“The specific trajectory of the 2016 U.S. troop drawdown will be established later in 2015 to enable the U.S. troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016,” the White House statement said.

“We are bound by common interests and will act together to ensure both the safety of United States and the safety of Afghanistan. That is the important consideration. Numbers are a means; they are not an end in themselves,” Ghani said.

President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, in office since September last year, is currently visiting the US.The Afghan delegation spent all day Monday in meetings with senior US officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Washington has pledged to fund Afghan security forces to the tune of $4 billion a year through 2017. The US is eager to show that the new government in Kabul is reliable and competent enough to solve its own problems, while being appreciative of American help.

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