US to seek funding for sustaining Afghan forces
Updated: 2015-03-24 09:12
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks at Pentagon during his visit to US, March 23, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]
CAMP DAVID - US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday that the Obama administration is seeking funding to ensure Afghan troops are maintained at its targeted peak level through 2017 as a move to show US commitment to strategic partnership with Afghanistan.
"As one part of that commitment, today, we can announce that the Defense Department intends to seek funding for Afghan forces to sustain an end strength of 352,000 personnel through 2017," said Carter at a joint press conference with Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
Carter said Afghan and coalition military commanders had jointly recommended the force size and acknowledged that the cost for maintaining the force size would be "significant" for both Afghanistan and international partners.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was currently on a week-long state visit to the United States to lay the groundwork for new relations between the two countries after more than a decade of troubled ties under the leadership of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The visit will also present Ghani a chance to press US President Barack Obama in person to reconsider previous schedule of withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.