WASHINGTON: The United States believes it will strike a deal with Afghanistan that will allow some American troops to stay in the country beyond 2014, when the NATO combat mission ends, the top US diplomat on Afghanistan told Congress on Thursday.
“Without an agreement on our presence in Afghanistan, we would not remain. But we do not believe that that’s the likely outcome of these negotiations,” James Dobbins, the State Department’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan told a Senate hearing.
“Unlike Iraq, to which comparisons are often made, the Afghans actually need us to stay. Most Afghans want us to stay. And we have promised to stay.”
Earlier this week, diplomatic sources had said talks on their future role in Afghanistan are eventually likely to resume in what is expected to be a difficult and unpredictable peace process, despite a row over the Taliban’s office in Qatar.
“Because of the arguments around the office, it hasn’t really been used, but people are still willing to find a way forward,” one western diplomat had told Reuters.