Though he withdrew from the presidential race, the White House on Tuesday said Hamid Karzai’s main opponent Abdullah Abdullah will play an important role in the future of Afghanistan.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Dr Abdullah will play a role, it’s quite clear, going forward in Afghanistan,” the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, told reporters at his daily press briefing in response to a question.

Mr. Gibbs said Abdullah had taken a “personal and political” decision when he announced in Kabul on Sunday that he is withdrawing from the November 7 run-off elections, which paved the way for the Independent Election Commission to declare Hamid Karzai the winner of the presidential election.

“Obviously there’s an evaluation that’s going on governance issues, not just in Kabul but throughout the country, and certainly that will be part of it,” Mr. Gibbs said when asked if the US would pursue the policy of reaching out to the tribal leaders which do not have a relationship with the central government.

Responding to another question, Mr. Gibbs said it is hard to evaluate what might have happened in an election that didn’t take place.

“Obviously some steps were taken to ensure that the next round was done in a way that produced a legitimate government. We believe it would have. Abdullah decided not to participate; therefore the only candidate in the race was President Karzai. He was ruled the winner today,” Mr. Gibbs said.

The spokesman said Obama has an obligation as Commander-in-Chief to make the very best decision in order to protect the national interest and to protect American citizens here as well as the troops on the ground.

“The President would expect that whatever decision he made, he would walk the American people through the reasoning of why that decision was made, and the interest that he saw that had to be protected in whatever the outcome of that decision was. I expect that that will take place once a decision is made and ultimately announced,” he said.

Mr. Gibbs said the Administration has national security concerns in ensuring that the Taliban are not able to create a safe haven that allows extremists like al Qaeda back into the country to disrupt the government in Afghanistan and plan attacks on the US.

“I would reiterate simply that there isn’t anybody involved in any of these meetings that wouldn’t say that the situation doesn’t have to get better in order for any strategy to work,” he said.

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