US notes upturn in Kabul-Islamabad ties
KABUL (Pajhwok): US troops staying in Afghanistan after 2014 will fight the Taliban only if they directly threaten them, support Al Qaeda or pose a strategic threat to Afghan National Security Forces, says an American diplomat.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman downplayed recent media reports that President Barack Obama had allowed American troops in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban.
In an interview published in Dawn on Friday, the ambassador noted Obama had stated in May the US would end its combat role in Afghanistan by Dec. 31, 2014. It will only maintain a counter-terrorism capability and the ability to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces.
Obama’s national security team had since been working out the operational and legal details required to continue executing the missions in 2015 in line with the Bilateral Security Agreement, he explained.
The envoy believed the induction of the new government in Kabul had brought positive changes to relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “This improvement in the relationship seems to me like a legitimate effort. We hope it is real. It appears to be real.”
The diplomat hailed Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, who visited Washington last week, as an articulate spokesperson for Islamabad’s interests. “In Washington, he received very broad support for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism campaign.”
Feldman said the two sides had held constructive discussions on the need to combat all terrorists, including the Haqqani network, and to eradicate militant safe havens on Pakistani soil.
“Yes, we all recognise that significant progress has been made” in the fight against terrorists since the North Waziristan operation, he said. “We also recognise that more work needs to be done, but there’s true commitment from Gen Sharif to deliver on this.”
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