US praises Pakistan’s support for peace in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON: As Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives here on Monday for talks on political transition in Afghanistan, the US State Department says it supports Pakistan’s efforts to help the reconciliation process.

Pakistan has recently released some key Taliban leaders, enabling them to join reconciliation talks with the government in Kabul.

At the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland noted that recent talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan had led to some of these release decisions.

The United States and Pakistan were committed to supporting Afghan-Afghan reconciliation, which “needs to be done in a manner that encourages the best possible path forward, a renunciation of violence and acceptance of the Afghan constitution”, she said. “But we are very supportive of dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan that can support reconciliation.”

Ms Nuland rejected a suggestion that the release of Taliban leaders could strengthen the rebels, particularly after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

She noted that the United States and its allies would continue to support and train Afghan security forces even after they withdrew their combat troops from Afghanistan.

“We remain prepared to support Afghan security in any other ways that are considered appropriate by all of us. But the goal is not to turn back the clock, but rather to have Afghans able to fully manage their own security,” Ms Nuland said.

Also this week, a senior US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Allen presented a new plan for maintaining peace in the war-ravaged country.

The plan, sent to US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, calls for retaining between 6,000 and 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan after 2014 as well.


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