Croker assuages regional concerns
KABUL (PAN): US Ambassador Ryan Croker on Wednesday allayed fears that Afghan soil would be used for offensive action against neighbouring countries and stressed the just-concluded strategic deal was not against any nation.
Speaking to the media after the signing of the historic Afghan-US strategic agreement late on Tuesday, he said the deal reflected America’s long-term commitment to regional security.
“The US will not have bases in Afghanistan and won’t launch offensive action against other countries using Afghan soil. In case of any internal or external threats to Afghanistan, the two countries will consult on fashioning an appropriate response; so the agreement is defensive in nature, not offensive,” he remarked.
President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai signed the strategic accord late on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, after almost 18 months of painstaking negotiations.
The agreement outlines US commitment to Afghanistan, especially after 2014, when NATO-led combat troops are slated to withdraw from the country. The document is largely focused on security in Afghanistan and US assistance to maintain a sustainable peace in the volatile country.
Crocker added the US and Afghanistan reserved the right to defend their forces and peoples in case of aggression. “Nothing in this agreement precludes the right of either party to self-defence, Afghanistan and the US retain the right to self-defence.”
He assured Pakistan the agreement demonstrated America’s long-term intention to remain in the region and would not abandon it, as they did in 1989.
“If we are committed to Afghanistan, we are also assuring Pakistan,” he said, acknowledging Islamabad’s vital role in promoting peace in the war-torn country.
“My hope is this long-term US pledge to Afghanistan also reassures Pakistan. Pakistan has a crucial role to play in the reconciliation process,” he reiterated.
Crocker said the US was committed to long term partnership and the agreement clearly defined the transformation decade from 2014 to 2024, in terms of security, democratic development, economic support and education cooperation.
“What this means is we are not repeating the mistakes of the early 1990s, we are committed to a long-term presence and long-term engagement between two equal and sovereign states; we are not going home this time,” Crocker concluded.
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