US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta indicates at end of US combat operations in Afghanistan during 2013; Taliban refutes news of any talks with Afghan Government in Saudi Arabia
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • (January 30- February 05)

    In a significant development, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said that the US will seek to wind down combat operations in Afghanistan during 2013, more than a year before a deadline for withdrawal. Speaking while travelling to a NATO summit, Panetta said the United States hopes to switch to a role training and supporting Afghan forces. It would be worth noting that there are currently some 99,000 US troops in the country, with 22,000 scheduled to return home during this year. Some 68,000 troops are due to remain in Afghanistan after the end of 2012. It is the most detailed public indication of when US troops might pull back from America's longest war. Until now, though, there had been little information how the Pentagon planned to manage the main bulk of the drawdown, committing only to a full withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014. 1

    Meanwhile, according to reports, the Taliban militia leading a 10-year insurgency in Afghanistan denied that they would soon hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government in Saudi Arabia. “There is no truth in these published reports saying that the delegation of the Islamic Emirate would meet with representatives of the Karzai government in Saudi Arabia in the near future,” the Taliban said on their website. Earlier, Afghan officials, requesting anonymity, had suggested that the two sides would hold talks in Saudi Arabia separate from planned negotiations in Qatar between the Taliban and the United States. 2