Washington: US forces could remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, the top most American Commander in the country has said asserting that there will be no thin out of troops from the eastern part of the country close to the borders of Pakistan.

General John R Allen, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said negotiations were on with the Afghan Government on a strategic partnership agreement for what "a post-2014 force will look like" in the war torn country.

"We would probably see number of advisers, trainers, intelligence specialists here for some period of time beyond 2014," the General told a newspaper.

The commander's remarks, the newspaper said, amounted to the most emphatic signal till date that the US military intended to secure a presence here, ‘possibly for years.’

Allen said the American troop pullback would continue but would be cushioned by some western military for the Afghan forces in the field.

At the same time, the General said that American Special Forces, who are heavily involved in many intelligence driven raids and often more dangerous operations, would remain at current level or even increase as the conventional troops were reduced.

In significant remarks, the American commander said there would be no drawdown of US forces in eastern Afghanistan, where he said ‘a pretty virulent insurgency’ remains a problem.

Allen said that there will be no troop cutbacks as insurgent fighters in the region were taking refuge in neighbouring Pakistan and quickly deploy across the border.

The American General said insurgency's hope of free rein after 2014 would be undercut, which could erode its credibility with followers.

"So if you are the insurgency and you had to rely on popular local support, or if you are the insurgency and part of the foundational dimension of your doctrine has been — I am just being a little facetious here — that on 1 January '15, it is going to be the Afghan government against the insurgency, that doctrine is now at risk," Gen Allen said.

In recent weeks, other US officials too have been saying that 2014 is not a hard deadline for complete withdrawal of US troops.

US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C Crocker recently said that America was open to keeping armed forces if the Afghanistan government asked for them. But General Allen is the highest-ranking American military official so far to explicitly state that possibility, the daily said.

General Allen insisted that there seemed to be an opening now to weaken the insurgency, and that some of its members were known to be questioning its potency.

"In 2011, the campaign didn't go well for them, and you can hear that chatter in the insurgent leadership," he said.

"Afghanistan is going to be here a long time, and what's critical is that Afghanistan's relationship with its neighbours is, to the maximum extent they can be, constructive and operationally useful," he said.

(Agencies)