Saturday Aug 16, 201401:12 PM GMT
US forces to leave Afghanistan soon: Iran official

A senior Iranian official says US forces are close to a total withdrawal from Afghanistan, as Afghans no more want foreign forces in their country.

“The deadline for the full pullout of US military forces from Afghanistan is approaching because the Americans have realized that the Afghan nation will no longer tolerate the presence and interference of [US forces] in their country’s affairs,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said on Saturday after a meeting with the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Jan Kubish, in Tehran.

Velayati, who is also president of the Center for Strategic Research of the Expediency Council, quoted Kubish as saying in their meeting that the US officials are determined more than before to pull their forces out of Afghanistan.

“According to what the UN envoy said, the Americans think they should no longer have numerous military bases in Afghanistan so that they would be able to leave Afghanistan’s soil in the near future,” Velayati added.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.

Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama said the presence of some 32,000 American forces in Afghanistan would drop to 9,800 by the start of 2015, adding, the soldiers would then be halved by the end of 2015, before their presence is reduced to an embassy one by the end of 2016.

The senior official further noted that Tehran backs democracy in Afghanistan and will support the winner of the presidential election.

Afghanistan’s presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have been locked in a bitter struggle for power during the past few months, over accusations of mass fraud and rivalry between their camps.

SAB/KA/SS

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