Afghan leaders understand importance of working together: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The United States has reiterated that only an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation talks with the Taliban could bring lasting peace to the war-torn country, asserting the Afghan security forces had met the challenges of a difficult fighting season.
“It has been a difficult fighting season in Afghanistan, and we’ve seen Afghans’ security forces thus far meeting the challenge,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference on Wednesday.
It was also important to remember that the Afghan forces were still under threat and there was still a high level of violence and a large number of Taliban groups and factions continued to press the fight, he said in response to a question.
“We need to continue our support to the Afghan military,” said Toner, who reiterated the reconciliation process with the Taliban needed to be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
The US would continue to encourage efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan despite the emergence of different splinter groups within the Taliban, which always made conflict resolution difficult, he said.
The US was monitoring the presence of ISIL-affiliated groups very closely in Afghanistan, said the State Department official.
“We’re actively engaged with the government of Afghanistan and our partners in the region to prevent that from taking place. We don’t want to see them gain safe haven or material support from the Taliban or anyone,” he added.
Toner said the United States had made a long-term commitment to Afghanistan. “We are going to help Afghanistan build a more stable, peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future,” he said.
Washington sacrificed in both blood and treasure to make that happen, and the US would continue to fulfill that commitment by standing firmly behind the democratically elected government, he added.
The State Department official commended President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah on the progress they’ve made in 18 months into a five-year term.
“But we want to continue to build on that progress. We want to work to increase the capability of Afghan Security Forces to provide for the security of the Afghan people, but it is a long, difficult road. But we’re certainly not going to abandon it,” he said.
The United States, he said, remained in very close touch with both leaders. “I think our assessment is, as I just said, that they’ve got significant challenges facing them, but we stand by and ready to support them as they work through these challenges,” he said.
“We want to see them implement, as I said, a – what is an ambitious reform agenda. But we continue to consult with them, their advisors, and we believe that they understand the importance of working together rather than separately,” Toner said.
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