Obama shakes hands with Ghani after their joint news conference at the White House in Washington

Obama slows withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Obama shakes hands with Ghani after their joint news conference at the White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday granted Afghan requests to slow the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and said he would maintain a force of 9,800 through the end of 2015 while sticking to a 2017 exit plan. Capping a day of VIP treatment for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House, Obama said the U.S. force would be kept at its current strength to train and assist Afghan forces, who took over responsibility for the fight against Taliban and other Islamic militants at the start of the year. Obama said the pace of the U.S. troop reduction in 2016 would be established later this year and the goal remained to consolidate U.S. forces in the country in a presence at the Kabul embassy at the end of 2016. “It was my assessment as commander in chief that it made sense for us to provide a few extra months for us to be able to help on things like logistics,” Obama said during a joint news conference with Ghani at the White House.

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