Newly sworn-in U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said Wednesday that she's ready to see troops come home from Afghanistan but does not favor an option that would leave no American military presence in the country after December 2014.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Newly sworn-in U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said Wednesday that she's ready to see troops come home from Afghanistan but does not favor an option that would leave no American military presence in the country after December 2014.
"The drawdown has to be managed carefully," the Nebraska Republican said in her first weekly conference call with reporters. "I don't support that zero option. I don't believe at this point that that's realistic."
Fischer, who defeated Democrat Bob Kerrey in November to replace former Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, made the remarks a day after returning from a congressional trip to Afghanistan and Israel.
Led by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Fischer was one of five Republican senators serving on either the Senate Armed Services or Foreign Affairs committees to make the trip. Fischer was appointed earlier this month to the Armed Services Committee.
U.S. combat troops are slated to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. At issue is the size of a residual force for training and assisting Afghans.
"I believe that Afghanistan can defend itself against terrorist threats, and I believe that that is necessary and in our national interests," she said. "We cannot let that country become a safe haven for terrorists again."
Obama administration officials have signaled that the U.S. might leave no troops in the country after December 2014. Other administration officials have said they are considering leaving as many as 15,000.
The group also visited Israel on the trip, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Fischer said Netanyahu expressed concerns about Iran's nuclear program. He and others in the West suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists it's enriching uranium only to make reactor fuel and to make isotopes for medical purposes.
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