Greater regional construct vital for lasting peace in Afghanistan: US

MattiesWASHINGTON: Weeks ahead of presenting the revised Afghan strategy to the US President Donald Trump, the Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday called for a regional construct to bring lasting peace in this country.

“Our military posture is part of a larger regional context in South Asia,” Mattis said before a Congressional subcommittee Thursday morning.

“The revised Afghanistan strategy with a new approach will be presented to the president for his approval in the coming weeks,” Mattis said.

A day earlier, Mattis told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that the US is considering issues from India, Pakistan and other nations in the region as part of its Afghan review.

“We would have to change the priorities, we would have to put it in a more regional construct. By regional construct, I mean we consider things, issues from India and Pakistan all the way over to Iran because they’re the bordering nations,” he said.

“And ignoring those means you put in a strategy that has not taken into account some of the most fundamental factors that would impact on its success or failure,” Mattis told Senators. “We change the way we fight, we change the regional construct and we change our approach to how we deal with this government,” said the Defense Secretary.

On Thursday Mattis said the Trump Administration’s primary national interest and the international interest in Afghanistan is ensuring it does not become an ungoverned space from which attacks can again be launched against the United States, other nations or the Afghan people.

“In this regard our forces are conducting partnered counterterrorism operations and we are supporting the NATO-led’s mission so in the future the Afghan people can defend themselves,” he said.

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