US plans more diplomatic missions in Afghanistan
KABUL (PAN): Despite Afghanistan's unfavourable security situation, financial and administrative problems, the United States is optimistic about its future and desires increased diplomatic missions in the war-torn South Asian country, an official said on Tuesday.
"Both countries have been able to handle effectively the ups and downs in their relations, which are currently moving in a positive and friendly direction," remarked Deputy Director of US State Department's Afghanistan Office Mustafa Popal.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Popal claimed the US wanted to have with Afghanistan increased ties in diverse fields, particularly on the diplomatic front.
There have lately been reports in foreign media that the US is planning to open five consulates in Afghanistan. But Popal explained: "A final decision on the new consulates is yet to come. It is being discussed between the two sides."
The two countries had agreed on the opening of an American consulate in northern Balkh province two years ago, the official recalled, describing last year's accord on strategic cooperation a landmark achievement for both countries.
Under the security transition strategy, Popal said the US wanted to gradually transfer to Afghanistan control over all its affairs, including military and civilian matters. Currently 80 percent security operations were Afghan-led and the figure will increase to 90 percent over the next two months.
Calling the drug trade and production in Afghanistan a serious challenge, Popal believed the fight against narcotics would succeed only when economic growth efforts were given more attention and importance.
He said the US had injected billions of dollars into the anti-drug campaign in Afghanistan and was determined to go ahead with the fight.
About the next presidential election, due in 2014, Popal said the US would back a free and transparent vote and technically assist the Afghan electoral body through the United Nations.
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