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WASHINGTON, September 12 (Itar-Tass) - The United States will leave in Afghanistan after 2014 less than 10 thousand troops, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Senator Carl Levin (Democrat from Michigan) told journalists on Wednesday.
“I can't give you a number, my hunch is it's going to be below 10,000,” he said.
At the end of 2014 it is planned to withdrawal from Afghanistan the main US and NATO units and troops of their partners in the coalition, conducting an operation in the country. As of August 2013, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) comprised 87.2 thousand men. ISAF was staffed by military personnel, representing a total of 49 countries.
In the view of Levin, “a small number” of American soldiers are to remain in Afghanistan after 2014 - in accordance with the bilateral security cooperation agreement, which is currently being drafted by Washington and Kabul.
The US senator emphasised that “the number I think should be a small number, that should be a number that follows a bilateral security agreement. I would say a small number with a very discreet kind of purposes. But we have to have a bilateral security agreement otherwise there will be no troops. It will be Iraq all over again which will be a mistake.”
In his view, the American soldiers should stay in Afghanistan after 2014 “for the antiterrorism purpose, perhaps for some air support, perhaps for some kind of specialised training purpose.”
Commenting on the talks with the radical movement Taliban, the senator said that now “Pakistan is being more cooperative in that.”
In addition, Pakistan has promised at the end of this month to release from prison the former “number two man” in the structure of the Taliban movement - Mullah Baradar, in order to promote a political settlement in Afghanistan, Levin recalled. “So there is a greater progress in that direction,” he said.