Warsaw summit to send a clear signal to Taliban: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The Obama Administration has said the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw would send a clear signal to the Taliban and other outfits that the United States remains firmly committed to security and development of Afghanistan.
“Afghan security is our security,” Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson told a Washington audience on Tuesday.
Olson, who has just returned from the Pak-Afghan region, said the Warsaw summit would be used as an occasion to “send a clear signal” to the Taliban that a negotiated peace settlement is the only way forward.
In his appearance before the Atlantic Council – a top American think-tank – Olson said during the NATO Summit, the US would announce its commitment to give $3 billion a year till 2020 towards the sustainment of the Afghan security forces.
At the same time, he insisted, that the cost of sustaining Afghan forces “must decline” over time. Noting that American and NATO forces are not enough to protect Afghanistan, he called for sustaining and strengthening the Afghan national security forces.
Olson also reiterated the United States was not resuming day-to-day security operations in Afghanistan, but would protect its interest in Afghanistan.
Expressing his support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talks, Olson, however, said the fighting season had not gone down well with the Taliban.
To a question, Olson said Pakistan remained committed to the peace process and this needs to be encouraged. He urged Pakistan to use its influence to bring the Taliban to the peace talks’ table.
He said the mood in Kabul after a recent big attack was fairly downward and to some extent diminished the space towards an outreach to the Taliban for reconciliation.
“But now the government is quite seized with taking the opportunity that it is presented to it for talks with the Taliban. The mood is more of cohesion and unity,” Olson responded to a question on the Afghan Government.
“There is space for the Taliban to integrate into the pluralistic society of Afghanistan,” he added.
Praising Pakistan for its anti-terror campaigns in Waziristan, Olson said Pakistan was now experiencing lower level of violence and its economy has stabilized.
“There is some degree of good news. However, the challenge for Pakistan has been its reluctance to take strong actions against terrorist networks that go after its neighbors.” He said Pakistan would not have a bright future until and unless it went after the Taliban.
The Afghan Taliban, he said, had consolidated itself under the new leadership. “There clearly is a role for other countries in the region, but for the moment the challenge is to keep the negotiations going.”
On peace talks with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Olson said: “We do think that the approach that the government has taken, we in the US support the reconciliation process and bringing groups in.”
Referring to “certain end conditions” that have to be met for any peace talks, Olson said the US wanted these conditions be met for any peace talks, but it was up to the Afghan government to take a final call on it.
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