Crocker briefed on Kandahar security
KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): The new US ambassador said on Saturday he would work in coordination with provincial officials for the improvement of security and ensuring good governance in Kandahar.
Ryan Crocker, after his arrival in Kandahar City, met Governor Tooryalai Wesa and heads of provincial departments. Speaking at a joint press conference, Wesa said Crocker's visit was aimed at assessing the security situation.
The ambassador was briefed on security and government's affairs, he said. The diplomat was told that powerful individuals posed a hurdle to smooth running of government affairs.
Wesa said he had told Crocker to award contracts to local businessmen instead of powerful individuals. The governor also asked the envoy to focus on basic development projects in the province. "Kandahar is to Afghanistan what the backbone is to the human body."
Crocker said he had agreed with Wesa over increased cooperation in improving the security situation and stepping up development activities.
He expressed his concern over the death of Ahmad Wali Karzai, the provincial council head, and Kandahar mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi. He said troops from his country were cooperating with their Afghan partners to prevent such incidents.
As part of the ongoing transition process, security responsibility in some provinces had been transferred to local forces, the diplomat said. Assistance to Afghan forces would continue even after the withdrawal of foreign troops by the end of 2014.
He said two important conferences were going to be held on Afghanistan -- one in Bonn and the second in Berlin. He hoped neighbours would pledge playing a sincere role at the Berlin conference in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.
"The Bonn conference is also important with regard to the economic development of Afghanistan," he said. To be hosted by Germany and led by Afghanistan, the Bonn conference is scheduled to take place on December 5.
It was Crocker's first visit to Kandahar since he was appointed as US ambassador to Afghanistan on July 25. Before, Crocker had worked as US envoy to Iraq. He retired from that post in 2009.
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