Washington, Oct. 17 (ANI): The United States troops, who were scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014, would now be extending their stay in the war-torn country, and negotiations over the extension would be beginning soon, a top State Department official has confirmed.
The news comes despite Vice President Joe Biden telling Americans during his Oct. 11 debate against Republican rival Paul Ryan that U.S. troops were leaving Afghanistan by 2014.
"We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we're going to be saving over the next 10 years another 800 billion dollars. We've been in this war for over a decade. Now all we're doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It's their responsibility, not America's," Biden had said.
However, according to a Foreign Policy blog, Marc Grossman, the US State Department's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, explained that that's not the whole story.
Grossman said that the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the U.S. troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counterterrorism operations, training and advising the Afghan security forces.
According to the report, last week, U.S. and Afghan negotiators met in Kabul to talk about a Bilateral Security Agreement that will govern the prolonged stay of U.S. troops in the country, Grossman disclosed.
He said that while meetings on "how we will manage our forces going forward in Afghanistan," have already taken place, formal negotiations are yet to take place. Once the negotiations formally start, the Bilateral Security Agreement must be completed within one year, according to the Strategic Partnership agreement, the blog said.
Karzai's Ambassador to Washington, Eklil Hakimi, would be leading the negotiations for the Afghan side, Grossman added. (ANI)