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Kabul Welcomes U.S. Decision To Maintain Troop Presence

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter answers questions while briefing reporters at the Pentagon on the U.S. military role in Afghanistan, in Arlington, Virginia, on October 15.

The Afghan government has welcomed an announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama to extend the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan past the end of next year.

The Afghan government issued a statement late on October 15 praising the announcement and pledging to "respond to fear and terror with full force."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani posted his approval of the announcement on Twitter, adding that "we remain determined to strengthen the relations in the area of fighting terrorism."

Obama announced on October 15 that Washington will keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan after 2016, when the administration previously planned to withdraw all 10,000 troops currently in the country.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the same day that he believes NATO allies will also renew their contributions to the coalition effort to stabilize Afghanistan.

NATO ended combat operations at the end of 2014, leaving in place some 13,000 troops providing training and support under Operation Resolute Support.

"We anticipate that the U.S. commitment will in turn garner the commitment of other members of the coalition that U.S. forces have operated with," Carter said. "I've already initiated consultations with key allies to secure their continued support for this mission."

Carter attended a NATO meeting in Brussels last week and received tentative agreement from partners to maintain higher troop levels.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on October 15 welcomed Obama's decision as "crucial" to support Kabul.

Based on reporting by AFP, The New York Times, and Reuters