The Obama administration said Tuesday that time is running out and if the Afghan leader continues to refuse to sign a bilateral security agreement, it will withdraw all U.S. troops from the country by December.
In their first phone call since June, Obama told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. plans to move forward with the contingency plan since the Afghan leader is unwilling to sign the security agreement that would give the U.S. military a legal basis for staying in the country.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has voiced his support for the move, and confirmed for the first time the Pentagon was making detailed plans for a full withdrawal.
Obama also said in his phone call with Karzai, however, that he is open to the possibility of a post-2014 training and anti-terror mission with the next government in Kabul after the April election.
The Pentagon is currently planning to cut the American force in Afghanistan to as low as 20-thousand from the current 33-thousand by mid-summer, giving commanders the ability to pull all troops out by December 31st if no agreement is reached.
The prospect of a full American withdrawal has led to concern among Afghanistan's neighbors, most notably Pakistan, where officials have warned that a civil war could break out and further destabilize the region without continued U.S. assistance.
Sohn Jung-in, Arirang News.