Extension of US troops' presence in Afghanistan welcomed

Kabul: Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed Washington's decision to extend the presence of American troops' in the country till 2017, the Presidential Palace said in a statement on Thursday. "Mohammad Ashraf Ghani welcomed decision of President Barak Obama to authorise extension of US troops in Afghanistan," the statement said. On Wednesday, Obama announced that he will maintain about 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan into 2017 through the end of his administration. His original plan was to draw down US troops in the militancy-hit country to 5,500 by the end of this year, Xinhua news agency reported. The decision showed continued partnership between US and Afghanistan to pursue common interests and strengthen regional stability, the statement added. Obama said the new decision was based on recommendation of US military leaders and following extensive consultations with his national security team, as well as the Congress, the Afghan government and international partners. The NATO and US forces completed their combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after 13 years of military presence in the country. Nearly 13,000 foreign forces, including some 9,800 US troops, are currently stationed in Afghanistan within the framework of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission to help Afghan forces in the field of training and advising and backing Afghan troops in the war on insurgents.