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The Boston Globe

World

US close to suspending talks on Afghan future

Impasse raises possibility of total withdrawal

KABUL — The United States and Afghanistan have reached an impasse in their talks over the role that US 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.

US officials say they are preparing to suspend negotiations absent a breakthrough in coming weeks, and would only resume them with President Hamid Karzai’s successor, who will be chosen in elections set for next April. But given the fragility of Afghanistan’s electoral system after 12 years of war, it is by no means certain when the next president would take office. Any delay could sharply reduce the amount of negotiating time before the end of 2014, when the US-led NATO combat mission here ends.

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