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Afghanistan: Withdrawal of 33,000 US Troops Marks Milestone

November 29, 2011, Washington, D.C. and Kabul, Afghanistan

The announced withdrawal, by the end of 2012 of 40,000 troops by the United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was marked today in Washington, D.C. as a milestone by the Afghanistan Foundation.

The United States will remove 33,000 of its soldiers, or the bulk of the NATO/ISAF forces being withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

“The slated withdrawal of about one-third of American and NATO’s ISAF force troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2012 represents a milestone in the draw-down of international security forces and an important progression in the assumption of key combat responsibilities by the Afghan National Army and police,” said Philip Smith, President and Director of the Afghanistan Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“Afghanistan’s road to self-sufficiency and further control of its national security and sovereignty are issues that are very important to ordinary Afghans and the leaders of the Afghan people,” Smith commented. “President Hamid Karzai and other senior Afghan leaders have repeatedly stressed the importance of Afghanistan’s self-sufficiency and national sovereignty.”

“Furthermore, major budget concerns in Washington over domestic matters as well as the cost of the ten year war effort by U.S.-led ISAF forces have contributed to a more pragmatic view in Washington regarding the potential accelerated withdrawal of significant numbers of U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” Smith stated. “Many in the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress, including many of the long-time friends of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., support a measured draw-down, and orderly withdrawal, of U.S. soldiers and NATO/ISAF forces from Afghanistan in consultation with our Afghan and international allies.”

“Security issues in Afghanistan remain serious, however, and more should be done by the United Nations and the international community to help ensure a smooth transition of control to Afghanistan’s National Army and security forces,” Smith observed. “This includes continued negotiations with Pakistan, and Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Agency, regarding the recent closure of Pakistan’s border crossing points with Afghanistan, including the Khyber Pass, which has prevented NATO convoys from re-supplying ISAF and American soldiers in Afghanistan over the last several days."

The Afghanistan Foundation issued an emergency statement on Saturday, November 26, 2011, expressing deep concern about the reported attack by NATO forces on Pakistani troops, leaving at least 24 dead and 13 wounded, according to military and civil officials in the Khyber Pass tribal area and Islamabad. The Afghanistan Foundation also called upon Pakistan to reopen border crossings with Afghanistan, as soon as possible, following an official investigation of the attack, which is ongoing. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1111/S00781/afghanistan-foundation-criticizes-pakistan-border-closure.htm

President Karzai recently concluded a security pact with India.

The Afghanistan Foundation is a non-profit and non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on research, education, policy analysis, international security, economic development, humanitarian affairs and other issues in Afghanistan-- and the regions of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

# # #

http://www.afghanistanfoundation.net

http://www.afghanistan-foundation.org
ENDS

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