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President Obama tells Afghan president that U.S. is preparing for total withdrawal post-2014

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Barack Obama,Afghanistan,Hamid Karzai

President Obama told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that he has ordered the Pentagon to plan for a total withdrawal of American forces after 2014, adding that the U.S. stands ready to have some presence in the country if Karzai ultimately agrees to sign a bilateral security agreement.

"President Obama told President Karzai that because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning," a White House readout of a phone call between the two leaders says. "Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014."

Obama and Karzai haven't talked much over the past several months. Yahoo News' Olivier Knox noted in December that they had only communicated twice in the previous six months, in November via letter and during a June 25 teleconference.

"At the same time, should we have a BSA and a willing and committed partner in the Afghan government, a limited post-2014 mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and going after the remnants of core Al Qaeda could be in the interests of the United States and Afghanistan," Obama told Karzai, per the White House readout. "Therefore, we will leave open the possibility of concluding a BSA with Afghanistan later this year. However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission. Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition."

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