DUSHANBE, March 17, 2012, Asia-Plus -- The New York Times reports that the White House said in a statement that U.S. President Barack Obama called President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan early on Friday morning and reaffirmed with him that American troops will complete their withdrawal by the end of 2014, the White House said in a statement.
The telephone call reportedly came a day after Mr. Karzai’s surprise announcement insisting that the United States confine its troops to major bases in Afghanistan by next year in what appeared to be an abrupt shift at odds with a pledge offered just hours earlier by Mr. Obama to stick to a 2014 withdrawal schedule.
According to The New York Times, en route to Chicago with President Obama aboard Air Force One, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said the two leaders had discussed Mr. Karzai’s comments this week that he would like an earlier withdrawal from Afghanistan by American forces.
“I think that was clearly a subject of the conversation,” Mr. Carney said. “Broadly they discussed a variety of issues, with regards to the mission in Afghanistan.”
Mr. Obama called Mr. Karzai just after midnight, White House officials said. The White House said in a statement that the two leaders “reaffirmed our shared commitment” to the agreement in which “Afghan forces would complete the process of transition and have full responsibility for security across the country by the end of 2014.”
Mr. Karzai’s office in Kabul released a similar statement.