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Obama Pick For Afghan Envoy: U.S. Can't Afford To 'Walk Away'

Ryan Crocker testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 8.

Ryan Crocker testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 8.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama's choice for the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan says Washington can't afford to "walk away" from the country and risk it again becoming a haven for terrorists.

Ryan Crocker is set to replace outgoing Afghan Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. He was testifying before lawmakers who are considering his nomination.

"Quite frankly, the reason that most of the problem [terrorist threat] is in Pakistan and not in Afghanistan at this time is that we [U.S. forces] are in Afghanistan," he said.

Crocker added that as the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan and turns over responsibility for security to Kabul, it needed to be "conditions-based, to ensure that as we draw down our forces...we have to be sure that the safe haven [for terrorists] doesn't then relocate from Pakistan to Afghanistan."

Obama is expected to announce that he will bring home a sizable number of the roughly 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan starting in July, but a growing number of U.S. lawmakers want a quicker pace.

Crocker, who is expected to be swiftly confirmed by lawmakers, said the United States must maintain the level of commitment needed for progress on Afghanistan's many challenges.

with agency reports