The Kabul Times.
Politics

US hopes Afghanistan not to be used again by terrorists

Nylon American Flag closeup 1

On the sideline of Munich Security Conference, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and US Vice President Mike Pence held talks and discussed a range of issues, including the success of South Asia strategy, electoral reforms, regional cooperation and the peace process.
“The United States is committed to preventing Afghanistan once again become a safe haven for terrorists,” Mr Pence said during the meeting, praising Afghanistan government for electoral reforms and holding Peace Consultative Jirga to be held soon.
President Ghani, on behalf of the Afghan people, thanked the government and the people of the United States for sacrifices and cooperation with Afghanistan, saying that the South Asian strategy has improved the situation.
“Using the South Asia strategy, war in Afghanistan is no longer America’s war. Afghan defense and security forces bravely fight and sacrifice themselves for a free country and securing global security,” Ghani said. “The ongoing peace efforts need to lead to a lasting peace,” he stressed.
In return, Pence said the US President Donald Trump announced the South-Asia strategy to take the fight to the Taliban, ISIS [Daesh] and other militant groups and that now they are happy that the Taliban have come to the negotiation table with the US.
He said they hope the discussions continue and the Afghan government also join in. 
“We look forward to those discussions going forward and we look forward to your engagement and your government’s engagement,” said Pence. 
The US vice president said he and the United States administration hope that a political settlement end the Afghan war and provide the ground for the country to develop.
President Ghani, meanwhile, said “the war in Afghanistan is no longer the US war, but of the Afghans”.
He said the goal of the South-Asia strategy was not war but was peace.
“After the transition and with the launch of the South Asia strategy, now the war is no longer an American war. We are grateful for the support, but it is our patriotic security forces that are doing the fighting and they are dying for a free homeland and for a secure world,” said Ghani.
Ghani said the South-Asia strategy worked well and helped Afghanistan and US to reassess the assumptions. He said the strategy was a game changer.
Meanwhile, US Army General Joseph Votel, head of the US military’s Central Command, stated on Friday the decision to reduce some of the roughly 14,000 American forces in Afghanistan was not linked to those peace efforts. Instead, he added, it was part of an effort by Army General Scott Miller, who took over the more than 17-year war effort in September, to make better use of US resources.
A number of Afghan political experts believe that continued military presence of US in Afghanistan can prevent from falling of parts of Afghanistan, but this option can end the war in the country.
“To end the ongoing war in Afghanistan, Taliban should hold direct peace talks with Afghanistan and agreed on key issues causing war in the country,” an Afghan political expert Aminzoy said, adding after peace agreement with the Taliban, all political parties and Afghanistan government can decide on modality of coalition forces’ presence in Afghanistan.
To reach a peace agreement with Taliban group, it is determined that the fifth round of peace talks between US negotiators and members of the Taliban group is held in Doha of Qatar on 25 February. The meeting will be at a time when no change has seen in position of the Taliban group in connection with holding direct peace talks with Afghanistan government.
Suraya Raiszada

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The Kabul Times.