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    US to have "enduring presence" in Afghanistan post-2014: Panetta

    WASHINGTON (PAN): After the completion of security transition in 2014, the United States wants to have an enduring presence in Afghanistan to focus on three critical areas -- counter-terrorism, train-and-assist the Afghan army and enhance Afghan government’s capabilities.

    “The goal here is an enduring presence that will direct itself towards three important missions. One is counterterrorism, to ensure that the US continues to go after whatever Al-Qaeda targets remain in Afghanistan,” the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

    “Although we clearly have had an impact on their presence in Afghanistan, the fact is that they (Al-Qaeda) continue to show up and intelligence continues to indicate they are looking for some kind of capability to be able to go into Afghanistan as well,” Panetta said at a press briefing with visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

    He added the US would continually be vigilant and the fundamental thrust of the counter terrorism was to ensure Al-Qaeda never carry out attacks on America or any other country.

    “We also are going to have a train-and-assist mission to help develop the capability of the Afghan army. The third mission will be to continue to provide some enabling capability so that we can provide the support needed for our forces as well,” Panetta said when asked about the post-2014 American presence in Afghanistan.

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