US defense secretary reassures support to Afghanistan

Kabul, July 12 (IANS) US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday reassured Washington’s long-term support to the militancy-plagued country.

Addressing a joint press conference with President Ashraf Ghani, the Pentagon chief said the message of his tour here to the people of Afghanistan is the “US would continue to remain alongside Afghans” to win the war on terror and achieve lasting peace and prosperity, Xinhua news agency reported.

This is the third visit of the Pentagon chief to Afghanistan since assuming office and the first one since conclusion of NATO summit in Warsaw on July 9, during which the military alliance decided to continue funding Afghan security forces until 2020, besides keeping the Resolute Support mission beyond its already once extended target date at the end of 2016.

Nearly 13,000 foreign forces are currently stationed in Afghanistan for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission to help Afghan forces in the field of training, advising and backing Afghan troops in the war on insurgents.

However, US President Barack Obama has already announced to keep 8,400 troops in Afghanistan to help Afghan forces in the war against increasing militancy.

“Maintaining US forces presence in Afghanistan will enhance our ability to continue progress on our missions here, so they can secure their nation,” said the Pentagon chief.

Replying to a question, the defence secretary described terrorism as a threat to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the world at large and added that the US would continue to track down and target terrorists.

President Ghani said: “Terrorists and the enemies are deemed to defeat and they cannot win on battle ground.”

–IANS

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