WASHINGTON: Appreciating Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s cooperation with Pakistan on Afghan reconciliation, US President Barack Obama said it is vitally important in the pursuit of peace.
“You’ve shown bold leadership in reaching out to Pakistan, which is critical to the pursuit of peace,” Obama said while addressing Ghani, who stood next to him in a press interaction following extensive White House talks. Obama noted that since the best way to ensure Afghanistan’s progress is a political settlement, “we’re going to continue to support an Afghan-led reconciliation process.” “Afghanistan and the United States agree on what the Taliban must do, which is break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws, including protections for women and minorities,” added the US president, who has agreed to maintain 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan through 2015 in response to Ghani’s request in support of security transition.
“The specific trajectory of the 2016 drawdown will be established later this year to enable our final consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016. This flexibility reflects our reinvigorated partnership with Afghanistan, which is aimed at making Afghanistan secure and preventing it from being used to launch terrorist attacks.” “Reconciliation and a political settlement remain the surest way to achieve the full drawdown of US and foreign troops from Afghanistan in a way that safeguards international interests and peace in Afghanistan, as well as US national security interests,” Obama remarked.
President Ghani emphasised peace is a priority of his government. “Don’t make premature judgments. And what we have asked from the United States, and President Obama has graciously supported it, is to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. And we are confident that this approach will bear the results in time. Peace is always difficult, and it requires focus, attention and sacrifice, and that’s what we are willing to do to bring it about,” he said in an answer to a question.