US Committed to Long-term Partnership with Afghanistan: Defense Secretary
Publish Date: Dec 14, 2011
December 14, 2011- On Wednesday evening during a joint press conference with President Karzai, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said his country was committed to forging a long term partnership with the Afghan people.
He further said the commitment was necessary so not only Afghanistan can have the support of the United States, but also the backing of the region and the international community for a stronger and more stable country.
Secretary Panetta praised the enhancing capability and strength of the Afghan security forces who evidently demonstrated their increased capacity by protecting the recent Loya Jirga.
Commending the efforts by the Afghan security forces, he said, “ they have fought and bled alongside American and international forces and because of their sacrifices and commitment we have been able to move forward with a transition, including a second tranche of provinces President Karzai announced last month.”
American defense secretary also said the sacrifices and the blood Afghan and international forces have shed will not be in vein, but would help us move forward to our ultimate goal which is Afghanistan a sovereign and independent Afghanistan, a country that can secure itself and that does not allow terrorists to use it as a safe haven.
On the regional aspect of his conversation with President Karzai, Secretary Panetta said, “ President Karzai and I had the opportunity to sit down and engage in very productive discussions about how we can build on the progress we have made in our shared effort in Afghanistan-including how we can work with Pakistan to further regional cooperation and security in Afghanistan.”
Speaking in the same conference, President Karzai welcomed the Defense Secretary to Afghanistan and said they discussed a number of important issues of mutual interest including the situation in Afghanistan and the region, the strategic partnership with Afghanistan and continued assistance to the training of Afghan security forces.
Responding to a question, the President said cooperation between the US and Afghanistan have led to security and stability in the country which can guide us all to a better future. He however, said the bigger duty not yet achieved is providing a sense of safety and security to the citizens.
In answer to another question on the issue of the recent recovery of a US drone aircraft in the Iranian airspace, the President said Afghanistan has received a letter from Iran and the Afghan foreign ministry would be following up the issue.
The President further said, Afghanistan remains committed to having the best of relations with its neighbors and said, “"The Iranians have fully understood and have cooperated with Afghanistan on the presence of the International forces in Afghanistan," the President added, “"Afghanistan should maintain and has maintained a very friendly relationship with Iran so we don't want to be involved in any adversarial relation between Iran and the US.”