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Pullout to pave way for peace, Kabul hopes

14 February, 2013

KABUL: The Afghan government on Wednesday welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision on the withdrawal of 34,000 American troops, believing the move would cause no security vacuum.

Late on Tuesday, Obama called his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to inform him of his decision to withdraw some 34,000 of the American 60,000 troops currently stationed in Afghanistan in the next one year.

The Afghan government had long been calling for the foreign soldiers to step back into a support role, President Karzai's office said, while appreciating Washington's announcement.

In a statement from the Presidential Palace, Karzai hoped the exit of NATO troops from Afghan villages would pave the ground for durable peace in the country.

The pullout was taking place with an already agreed plan, Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Musazai told a news conference in Kabul.

With their capacity and capabilities steadily increasing, Afghan forces would be able to ensure the security of the country's borders after 2014, when most foreign combat troops would leave, he hoped. The Afghanistan-US relations are moving in the right direction, according to the spokesman, who said Washington would remain pledged to cooperation with Kabul for a decade after 2014.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence also hailed the Obama's decision. The ministry spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimi, said the Afghan National Army (ANA) was ready to fill any vacuum created foreign troops' pullout and shoulder the security responsibility in 2013. Currently, 66,000 American troops are stationed in Afghanistan and the US military mission is scheduled to end over the next two years.

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