The United States and Afghanistan have reached an impasse in their talks over the role that American forces will play here beyond next year, officials from both countries say, raising the distinct possibility of a total withdrawal — an outcome that the Pentagon’s top military commanders dismissed just months ago. American officials say they are preparing to suspend negotiations absent a breakthrough in the coming weeks, and a senior administration official said talk of resuming them with President Hamid Karzai’s successor, who will be chosen in elections set for next April, is, “frankly, not very likely.”...
...Assuming the election takes place on time, it would still push talks to the middle of next year, and many Western officials in Kabul say the election could be delayed until the summer. In the estimation of many Western officials in Kabul and Washington, that is perilously close to the drop-dead date of Dec. 31, 2014. Mr. Karzai, who has served two terms, cannot run for a third.
Adm. James G. Stavridis, who retired in May as NATO’s military commander, said the logistics of organizing a post-2014 force could prove daunting if a deal was not struck soon. Each of the allies has separate logistics, training, supply and transportation requirements, and “we are getting close to the red line for people to be able to put those forces together,” Admiral Stavridis said Friday at a forum in Washington sponsored by The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he is now dean.
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