WASHINGTON: Two key US Senators warned President Barack Obama on Tuesday against a "precipitous" withdrawal of an "arbitrary" number of troops from Afghanistan in a planned July draw-down of forces.
"A precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a mistake and I, for one, would take that option off the table," Democratic Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
"Instead, we should be working toward the smallest footprint necessary, a presence that puts Afghans in charge, and presses them to step up to that task," Kerry said as his panel held a hearing on the US strategy in Afghanistan.
Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on Kerry's committee and Obama's foreign policy mentor when he was in the Senate, said the president "should not just withdraw an arbitrary number of troops."
"Rather, he should put forward a new plan that includes a definition of success in Afghanistan based on US vital interests and a sober analysis of what is possible to achieve," said Lugar.
"I continue to stress that such a plan should include an explanation of what metrics must be achieved before the country is considered secure. It should also designate and eliminate those activities that are not intrinsic to our core objectives," Lugar said in a statement.
Lugar questioned "whether our vast expenditures in Afghanistan represent a rational allocation of our military and financial assets."
"This was true before Osama Bin Laden was killed. His death has encouraged reflection on our policy in Afghanistan and may create some perceptual opportunities in the region," said the Republican.
"But a reassessment of our Afghanistan policy on the basis of whether our overall geostrategic interests are being served by spending roughly $10 billion a month in that country was needed before our troops took out bin Laden," said Lugar.
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