Rhodes said Obama is focused on two main outcomes in Afghanistan: ensuring that the country does not revert to being the al-Qaida haven it was prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and getting the government to the point where it can defend itself.
"That's what guides us, and that's what causes us to look for different potential troop numbers — or not having potential troops in the country," Rhodes said.
He predicted that Obama and Karzai would come to no concrete conclusions on international military missions in Afghanistan beyond 2014, and he said it likely would be months before Obama decides how many U.S. troops — if any — he wants to keep there.
Rhodes said Obama remains committed to further reducing the U.S. military presence this year, although the pace of that withdrawal will not be decided for a few months. Last year the U.S. military pulled 23,000 troops out of Afghanistan on Obama's orders.
AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.
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