Afghan peace: US to intensify regional diplomacy
“In 2011, we will intensify our regional diplomacy to enable a political process to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, to include Afghan-led reconciliation, taking advantage of the momentum created by the recent security gains and the international consensus gained in Lisbon,” Obama said in a report to the Congress.
“As we shift to transition, a major challenge will be demonstrating that the Afghan government has the capacity to consolidate gains in geographic areas that have been cleared by ISAF and ANSF,” he said.
Noting that specific components of US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan are working well, and there are notable operational gains, he said most important, al-Qa'ida's senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001.
In Afghanistan, the momentum achieved by the Taliban in recent years has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in some key areas, although these gains remain fragile and reversible.
“As a result of our integrated efforts in 2010, we are setting the conditions to begin transition to Afghan security lead in early 2011 and to begin a responsible, conditions-based US troop reduction in July 2011,” he said.
“Moreover, at the recent NATO Summit in Lisbon, we forged a broad Afghan and international consensus, agreeing on a path to complete transition by the end of 2014,” he said.
“Beyond these targets, and even after we draw down our combat forces, the United States will continue to support Afghanistan's development and security as a strategic partner, just as the NATO-Afghanistan partnership affirms the broader and enduring international community support to Afghanistan,” Obama said.
In Afghanistan, substantial international resources have been assembled from 49 allied and partner countries to implement a focused, integrated civilian-military approach. International support is evidenced by the growth in the NATO-led coalition, increased Muslim-majority country support in the region, and the continued provision of critical international resources, he said.
The United Nation's (U.N.) leadership, including on civilian assistance, has helped garner renewed and strengthened support for key institution building efforts. United States civilian and military integration has significantly improved, with coordinated efforts now occurring at every level, he said.
The surge in coalition military and civilian resources, along with an expanded special operations forces targeting campaign and expanded local security measures at the village level, has reduced overall Taliban influence and arrested the momentum they had achieved in recent years in key parts of the country. “Progress is most evident in the gains Afghan and coalition forces are making in clearing the Taliban heartland of Kandahar and Helmand provinces, and in the significantly increased size and improved capability of the ANSF,” Obama said.
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