“We are making progress toward a common goal, that is to ensure we and our allies never again face terroirs attacks from Afghanistan, counterterrorism operations remained critical to our efforts to achieve peace and ensure terrorist organizations can’t find safe havens in Afghanistan,” US Defense Secretary, Mark Esper said in a press conference in Kabul.
Esper visited Kabul to restart peace talks with the Taliban after President Trump scrapped plans for negotiations at Camp David last month.
In a joint press conference with General Scott Miller, NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and US Forces-Afghanistan commander, Afghan Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid, and Interior Minister Masoud Andrabi, Esper said that his country’s security partnership with Afghanistan would remain strong, and their mission in Afghanistan has not changed.
Esper said the US continues to conduct counter-terrorism operations while supporting the development of the ANDSF as the United States remained fully committed to helping Afghans create a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
“A negotiated political settlement among the Afghans is the best path to achieving this outcome.”
“But until this isn’t accomplished, US would continue to pursue an aggressive military campaign against the Taliban and terrorist groups, who continue to conduct violence against the people of Afghanistan,” he added.
“Together we remained committed to achieving peace in Afghanistan, in a way that protects the achievements of the last 18 years, reinforces our shared security goals, and respects the integrity of the Afghan people.”
He also mentioned the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are “very very different” where the US has been here since 2001 since the heinous attacks against Americans in 9/11.”
“We now have longstanding commitment to our Afghan partners we have invested billions upon billions of dollars both the Afghan people and the American people have sacrificed treasure and the lives of their soldiers to defend this Afghan government, the people and we stand for democracy in this land… very different level of commitments, very clear policy directions on all these things I think should reassure Afghan allies “So, all these things I think should reassure our Afghan allies and others that they should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria and contrast that with Afghanistan,” Esper stressed.
General Scott Miller, NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, and US Forces-Afghanistan commander said that “unbeknownst to the public as part of our optimization, over the last year… we have reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here.”
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