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    Taliban involved in attacks are an enemy: Pentagon

    WASHINGTON (PAN): Taliban involved in attacks against US soldiers and indulging in terrorist attacks are an enemy to the United States, the Pentagon said Tuesday, a day after the country’s Vice President, Joe Biden, stated that the Taliban is not an enemy.

    “As they and when they continue to attack innocent people in Afghanistan and pose threat to our troops, we consider that is a force we are going to deal with,” Pentagon Spokesman, Navy Capt John Kirby, told reporters during an off camera news conference when asked about the remarks of the US Vice President, Joe Biden, that Taliban is not an US enemy.

    “Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical,” US Vice President Joe Biden had told Newsweek magazine in an interview on Monday.

    “I did not see the Vice President’s comments so I do not the context in which he said that. We continue to work very hard to roll back, actually we believe we have rolled back the Taliban momentum inside Afghanistan from military perspective,” Kirby said.

     “We continue to fight them every day. And every day we continue to weaken their capability to inflict harm and violence on the Afghan people. That said, they also have governing ambitions. One of the reasons they are fighting is because they want Afghanistan back. We believe that should they have Afghanistan back, increases the likelihood that Afghanistan becomes heaven again for Al Qaeda,” he said.

    This was all about preventing Afghanistan from becoming an Al Qaeda safe haven again, he said. “So they have political aspirations and that is why there is reconciliation process being led by the Afghan Government to work through that,” he added.

    The Pentagon spokesman said the supply routes to Afghanistan continue to be shut down by Pakistan.

    The logistic routes for them were still shut, he said when was asked about the status to the crucial NATO supply routes that were closed by Pakistan in retaliation of the November 26 ISAF air strike on Pakistani soldiers.

    Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers were killed on Novermber 26 when NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) helicopters targeted a check post in the Salala area of Mohmand Agency.

    “I am not aware of any negotiations or talks (with Pakistan). Certainly we have made it clear through official channels that we would like to see those gates back open,” he said.

    US would like to see Pakistani officers come back to the co-ordination centers on Afghanistan- Pakistan border. But that is the decision, which Pakistan needs to make, he said.

    lkj/myn



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