Obama to Soon Decide on Troop Pullout in Afghanistan

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama will soon decide on the scope and pace of U.S. troop withdrawals in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama met with senior advisors and military officials Monday for his monthly meeting on Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, the first since al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed May 2 in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington that the president will make a decision on the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan relatively soon, after receiving a recommendation from military advisors.

Mr. Obama sent 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan in December 2009 and vowed to begin a pullout by mid 2011. There are some 100,000 American forces in Afghanistan.

The president is scheduled to hold a videoconference with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on Wednesday.

Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that he would prefer that support troops, not combat soldiers, be pulled out first.

The defense secretary, who is on his last official trip to Afghanistan, also warned President Karzai that his country needs to increase security, and that failure to do so would put the smooth withdrawal of U.S. forces at risk.

Gates wrapped up his trip Monday, visiting U.S. troops in several Afghan provinces.

In violence Monday, Afghan officials say unknown gunmen killed 11 people, including at least one Afghan soldier, in central Logar province.

In Nimroz province, insurgents attacked an Afghan checkpoint, killing two police officers and abducting five others.

And NATO says two of its service members were killed in southern Afghanistan Monday — one in a roadside bombing, the other in an insurgent attack.