Sunday, May 19, 2013
Last Updated: 19 May 06:36 AM IST
28 November 2012Press Trust of India
WASHINGTON, 28 NOV: Any American mission in Afghanistan or presence of troops there would be only at the invitation of the Afghan Government and a possible post-2014 presence would be aimed at training its forces and targeting the remnants of Al Qaida, the Pentagon has said.
“Any post-2014 mission would obviously be at the invitation of the Afghan government. We have full respect for Afghan sovereignty. I think we've said that a prospective, a possible post-2014 presence would be aimed at training Afghan forces and targeting the remnants of Al-Qaeda,” the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters at a news conference here yesterday.
“The Haqqanis are a group that are suffering significant losses. They pose a threat to ISAF forces in Afghanistan today. What Haqqani-related decisions will be in a post-2014 Afghanistan, I can't say on this day in November 2012. I think it's a logical question that would be surfaced (in the review),” he said.
Early this morning, Mr Panetta held a teleconference with General John Allen, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and reviewed the progress in the war against terrorism in the country. Mr Little said that there has been remarkable progress in Afghanistan.
“If you look at the markers of progress in Afghanistan, you look at the number of Afghans who are now living in areas under Afghan security lead. That's one metric. Violence levels are down. And let me just point out a recent poll that was conducted by the Asia Foundation. We welcome the results of this comprehensive opinion poll,” he said.
“More than half of those surveyed in this poll say that Afghanistan is moving in the right direction. There were many reasons cited for optimism, including good security, improvements in education including for girls, reconstruction and having an active Afghan national army and Afghan national police,” the Pentagon official said.
Mr Little said that there is very strong evidence that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) capabilities are growing, and growing quickly and stronger.
“ANSF are increasingly taking the fight to Afghanistan's enemies throughout various parts of the country. That was, in fact, a point that was raised in the discussion today,” he said.
The Pentagon official said the US and Afghanistan are currently negotiating a bilateral security agreement (BSA) that would supersede the current status of forces agreement with the war-torn country.
Responding to questions if BSA would include immunity for US soldiers, he said there's likelihood that protections for US personnel are obviously part of any SOFA discussion.