Pentagon Chief ‘Ashton Carter’ in Afghanistan to meet Afghan leaders, US commanders

Ashton-Carter-in-AfghanistanKABUL: The US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has arrived in Afghanistan to meet with the Afghan officials and US commanders based in Afghanistan.

The visit by Carter follows days after Washington and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders renewed pledge to support Afghanistan and maintain forces in the country.

He is expected to meet with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah during his visit.

This comes as President Barack Obama announced last week to keep 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan through January 2017.

Obama had planned to draw down the number of American troops in the country to 5,500 by the end of the year. There are currently 9,800 U.S. troops in the country.

“As president and commander-in-chief, I have made it clear that I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again,” Obama said. “I strongly believe that it is in our national interests, especially after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested in Afghanistan over the years, that we give our Afghan partners the very best opportunity to succeed.”

In the meantime, the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) reaffirmed long term support to Afghanistan as the alliance met in Poland to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan.

The leaders of the alliance took three key decisions about Afghanistan during the summit.

“First, we agreed to sustain our Resolute Support Mission beyond 2016, through a flexible, regional model. Second, we received firm national commitments to continue funding Afghan security forces through 2020. And third, we reaffirmed our support for a long-term political partnership and practical cooperation with Afghanistan,” he said. “So our message is clear: Afghanistan does not stand alone; and we are committed for the long haul,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. -KP

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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