US envoy bound for Afghanistan ahead of drawdown
The US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan was headed for Kabul for regional talks in the wake of President Barack Obama’s announcement of a US drawdown from the country.
Ambassador Marc Grossman, who left for Kabul on Friday, will highlight US commitment to a “long-term, enduring partnership” with Afghanistan, the State Department said in a statement.
During his visit, Grossman will also attend a meeting of the International Contact Group for Afghanistan “as part of ongoing consultations with Afghanistan’s neighbors and international partners,” it added.
In addition, he will hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta and United Nations Special Representative Staffan de Mistura.
The special envoy will also represent the United States at the third meeting of the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan Core Group “to support a process of Afghan-led reconciliation,” according to the State Department.
In a nationally televised address on Wednesday, Obama announced a plan to withdraw 33,000 surge troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer, which his military commanders said was more “aggressive” than they had recommended.
The move came as the American public grows increasingly impatient with a war that has dragged on for nearly a decade.
White House officials insist Obama’s move was based on military strategy — not politics — and that progress on the battlefield and the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had made the drawdown possible.