Back of the Taliban broken: Obama
CHICAGO (PAN): The US-led international coalition has not only broken the back of the Taliban, but having trained an effective Afghan security force, the US is ready to start drawing down its troops this July, US President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
“In Afghanistan, where we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum, trained Afghan forces, and are now preparing to turn a corner in our efforts, we’re scheduled to begin the transition to Afghan lead,” Obama said in a joint White House Press Conference with the visiting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Merkel is the first European leader to be invited by the Obama Administration on a state visit. Afghanistan was a major topic of discussion when the two leaders met at the White House. The talks came a day ahead of Obama’s scheduled video conference with President Hamid Karzai.
“I reiterated that we’ll begin reducing American forces this summer, even as we join with Germany and our NATO allies in supporting Afghans in their political and economic efforts to forge a lasting peace,” he said.
Obama noted that Germany’s deployment of additional resources and personnel to Afghanistan has allowed other NATO allies to increase their support for the mission to protect the Libyan people.
“The commitment we take in Afghanistan shows that we’re very close. We’re very grateful for the close cooperation in the north of Afghanistan; that has turned out excellently. We share the opinion that in Afghanistan we wish to approach the matters in the sense of an integrated security approach, a network security approach,” Merkel said in her remarks.
“It was said we want to build up not only the military side of it, but the civil side of it. We wish to go in together, out together. Afghanistan will need our support, however, in the long run. So we will not abandon them,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday will hold a confirmation hearing for Ryan Crocker, who has been nominated as the next US Ambassador to Afghanistan.
At another Congressional hearing, Shari Villarosa, Deputy Coordinator for Regional Affairs, said that Al Qaeda cannot be allowed to maintain its safe haven and to continue plotting attacks along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“It is no secret that we have not always seen eye-to-eye with Pakistan on how to deal with its terrorist threats or on the future of Afghanistan,” Villarosa said.
“But as a result of US and Pakistan counterterrorism cooperation and Pakistani military operations aimed at eliminating militant strongholds in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas], the Al Qaeda core has had significant leadership losses – including the recent demise of Osama bin Laden – and is finding it more difficult to raise money, train recruits, and plan attacks outside of the region,” she said.
“Although the Al Qaeda core is clearly weaker, it retains the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks. In addition, Al Qaeda has forged closer ties with other militant groups in the region – for example Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Network – providing the group with additional capabilities to draw on,” the official said.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.