KABUL, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) welcomed the U.S. President Barack Obama's decision over withdrawal of another 34,000 American forces from Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan welcomes the announcement by President Obama, who in his state of the union address said that the U.S. would be pulling out another 34,000 troops over the next year from Afghanistan," said a statement posted on Karzai's website on Thursday.
In his State of Union address on Tuesday night, Obama announced that 34,000 U.S. forces will be repatriated home from Afghanistan over the next year.
Currently there are about 100,000 NATO-led ISAF forces, with nearly 66,000 of them Americans, stationed in the country. Under Obama's withdrawal plan, 33,000 U.S. forces pulled out of the country in September last year.
"This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead," Obama was quoted in the statement as saying
"This is something Afghanistan has wanted for so long now. The withdrawal in spring of foreign forces from Afghan villages will definitely help in ensuring peace and full security in Afghanistan, " the statement noted.
Meantime, the NATO-led ISAF also hailed the decision, saying the announcement is consistent with the strategy agreed upon by U. S. and coalition partners and the Afghan government at the Lisbon Summit in 2010, and is evidence of that strategy's success.
"This security transition is well underway. The ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) is currently providing security for the majority of the Afghan population and leading the vast majority of operations across Afghanistan. The ANSF, with support from the ISAF, have successfully pushed the majority of violence out of the country's population centers," the ISAF said in a press release.
"(The) U.S. Forces Afghanistan recognizes that Transition now depends on the continued success of the ANSF. The ANSF continues to take on more security responsibility while we shift from combat operations to our Security Force Assistance mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces. This shift in our mission will allow the ANSF to exert full security responsibility by the end of 2014," the ISAF release reads.
The Taliban, who ruled the country before they were ousted by a U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, renewed armed insurgency, staging ambush and suicide attacks, killing combatants as well as civilians.
The insurgent group in a sharp reaction downplayed President Obama's decision and vowed to continue war till the complete pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The number of ANSF has already reached the target of 352,000, with thousands of soldiers under training presently, but these haven't proven to be deterrent enough to stop the Taliban from staging suicide bombings and frontal attacks on government installations.
However, Karzai and high-ranking Afghan military officials have expressed confidence in the army and police's ability to protect civilians.
Even if the NATO-led forces leave Afghanistan, international financial support for the Afghan security forces will continue, they said.
During an international conference on Afghanistan held in Japan in July last year, the donor countries pledged more than 16 billion U.S. dollars in development aid for Afghanistan through 2015. The U.S. and its NATO allies also promised almost the same amount to support Afghan troops after pullout of their forces.