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By Mick Krever, CNN
International forces will remain in Afghanistan after the currently scheduled withdrawal at the end of the 2014, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“I think you will see a very large ISAF combat mission changed to a smaller but continued resolute support, train, advise and assist mission at the end of the year,” General Breedlove said, referring to the International Security Assistance Force.
“NATO’s mission doesn’t end [after 2014]; NATO’s combat mission ends, but our train, advise, assist mission begins, and this is very important to remember.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who will soon end his term of office, has refused to sign an agreement to keep foreign security troops in the country after 2014.
Amanpour has interviewed all three leading presidential candidates – Abdullah Abdullah, Zalmai Rassoul, Ashraf Ghani – and each one has told her that he is in favor of signing a deal.
Political leaders in the U.S. have issued stark warnings about American troops in the country, warning that without an agreement the U.S. will have no choice but to prepare for withdrawal.
“Were the political figures in the United States,” Amanpour asked, “sort of blowing smoke up everybody’s skirts?”
Breedlove said he and his colleagues “have planned a drawdown that gives our decision-makers – both U.S. and NATO – that decision space to get through the election period, so that we can get to an elected president, sign the required documents, and then move sharply into preparations for and then transition to the resolute support mission.”
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