By Carlo Muñoz - 04/12/12 09:52 PM EDT
Kabul is "fully aware of the political agendas" driving arguments inside Washington for a faster troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to Abdul Wardak, the country's defense minister said.
More than 90 percent of all Afghans believe the Afghan army is ready to take over security operations from U.S. and coalition forces, Wardak said.
More than 80 percent of the population feels the same way about the country's police force, Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi said during the same speech.
To maintain that kind of support, which will be key to a successful U.S. handover to the Afghans, the American public "must be more patient with this process," Mohammadi said.
However, after over a decade of war that has left more than 1,800 U.S. troops dead, calls to bring American forces home sooner than later have grown.
Those calls could get louder once the presidential election hits high gear in the coming months.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum decided to drop his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday — a decision that left GOP front-runner Mitt Romney as the presumptive challenger to President Obama in November.
While most of the early back-and-forth between the Obama and Romney camps has focused on domestic issues, U.S involvement in Afghanistan is sure to be a hot-button issue in the campaign.
White House reportedly considered the idea of pulling 20,000 American troops from the country a year ahead of the administration's 2014 deadline
A plan backed by National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon would be to announce that at least 10,000 more troops would come home by the end of December, and then 10,000 to 20,000 more by June 2013, The New York Times reported in March.
Since then, however, the White House has reaffirmed its commitment to keeping U.S. forces in country until 2014.
Romney has criticized the White House's plan for Afghanistan during the Republican primaries. But the former Massachusetts governor argued his plan would not be deadline driven.
A Romney-designed Afghan plan would use the progress made by Afghan forces as the barometer for when American troops should leave the country.
That kind of plan could end up keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan longer than 2014. Critics of that approach claim that it ties the Pentagon to an open ended commitment in Afghanistan.
While Wardak and Mohammadi called for patience on Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for a faster withdrawal of U.S. forces in March.
Karzai's demands came days after Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly shot and killed 16 Afghans in an apparent shooting spree. The massacre inflamed anti-American tensions in the country and threatened to derail American transition plans.