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Taliban withdrawing from Kunduz a welcome sign: White House

Washington: Welcoming the Taliban’s decision to withdraw from Kunduz in Afghanistan, the US today said that it was an indication of the capabilities and resilience of the Afghan security forces.

“We have seen those reports (of the Taliban withdrawing from Kunduz),” said Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary.

“Obviously that is a welcome sign,” Earnest said in response to a question.

“I think it is an indication that the Afghan national security forces do have significant capability that has been built up over the last few years, I think is in no small part to the dedication to the NATO force that is operating in Afghanistan to train, equip and advise the Afghan national security forces,” said the White House Press Secretary.

“So the fact that they were overrun in Kunduz in the first place was a setback. But their ability to regroup and retake the city is an indication of the resilience and capability of the Afghan security forces,” he said.

Earnest said the US President Barack Obama does have a policy decision to make as it relates to our future military presence inside of Afghanistan.

Certainly conditions on the ground will influence that process, but they will not dictate the outcome, he said.

There are a range of considerations that the president will factor in in making that decision.

“I don’t have an update for you at this point on what the decision will be or when it will be announced,” he added.

It is, however, an indication of capabilities and resilience of the Afghan forces,” Earnest said.

The Taliban attacked Kunduz on September 28 and held the city for three days before being driven back.

The Public Health Ministry has said that over 60 civilians have been killed and around 800 wounded in the fighting.