Sunday, December 4, 2016

Britain Reaffirms Support for Afghanistan Effort

LONDON — As the Obama administration reaches out to head off any weakening of allied resolve, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain — America’s closest military ally — flew to Kabul on Thursday, saying this would be the “vital year” for the campaign against the Taliban.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan during a news conference in Kabul on Thursday.

His visit came after a three-day diplomatic offensive in London, with a trio of top Pentagon figures — Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates; Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in the region; and Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army — seeking assurances that Britain will remain steadfast in its Afghan commitment.

Britain has committed around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan — the second largest contingent in the 46-nation coalition after the 94,000 American soldiers there. On his surprise visit, which comes as British casualties are mounting and the country confronts huge financial strains, Mr. Cameron made clear that his government was not planning to increase its troop levels. Such an increase, Mr. Cameron said, was “not remotely on the U.K. agenda.”

Indeed, he made clear that Britain’s goal was to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces as soon as that was possible.

“We should all the time be asking ‘Can we go further, can we go faster,’ ” Britain’s Press Association news agency quoted him as saying.

At a news conference alongside President Hamid Karzai, Mr. Cameron declared: “No one wants British troops to stay in Afghanistan for a day longer than is necessary.”

But, he said, “What we want — and is our national security interest — is to hand over to an Afghanistan that is able to take control of its own security.”

The visit was Mr. Cameron’s first to Afghanistan as head of a coalition of his Conservative Party and the smaller Liberal Democrats. He said he had described this year “in terms of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, as the vital year.”

“This is the year when we have to make progress — progress for the sake of the Afghan people, but progress also on behalf of people back at home who want this to work,” he said.

His remarks echoed comments in London on Wednesday by Mr. Gates, who said that the United States and its allies were under pressure to show progress in the war by the end of the year, and that American voters would not accept an open-ended “stalemate.”

“All of us, for our publics, are going to have to show by the end of the year that our strategy is on the right track and making some headway,” he said.

As Mr. Gates headed for a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, it seemed clear the Americans had achieved the reaffirmation they had sought after Mr. Gates and General Petraeus met separately with Mr. Cameron, and in talks both men had with the new British defense minister, Liam Fox.

After Mr. Gates met Mr. Cameron on Monday, the prime minister’s office issued a statement saying that he had “reiterated U.K. support for U.S. strategy,” but tellingly singled out as the strategy’s main element the $20 billion plan to build up Afghanistan’s own forces so they can take over security responsibilities and allow allied troops to leave.

The renewed British commitment was expected. Mr. Cameron and Mr. Fox are Conservatives, who strongly supported the British role in Afghanistan while in opposition, before they joined the left-of-center Liberal Democrats in a coalition after the inconclusive May 6 general election.

The Conservatives’ differences with the former Labour government centered less on whether the war should be fought than on whether the British troops had been adequately equipped.

In Kabul on Thursday, Press Association reported, Mr. Cameron said, “My biggest duty as prime minister of the United Kingdom is to our armed forces, to make sure that they have all the equipment and all the protection they need to do the absolutely vital job that they are doing here in Afghanistan.”

He also announced extra spending of around $100 million for a specialized unit to counter the threat of insurgents’ roadside bombs — one of the Taliban’s most effective weapons.

American officials regard a bolstering of Britain’s support as especially important at a time when many European countries with troops in Afghanistan, including Britain and Germany, are committed to sharp cuts in defense spending as part of their drive to reduce huge government deficits. With Britain reaffirming its backing for the Afghanistan effort, the American hope is that other European nations will be hesitant to back out.

Mr. Gates said in London that he hoped the European allies would follow the Pentagon’s example in seeking $100 billion in spending cuts by reducing overhead costs and spending on new weapons programs. “I would hope that our allies, before they consider force structure reductions, and reductions more broadly in capabilities, will look overall at how they spend their money,” he said.

In a concession to Britain, American officials said they had abandoned plans to move many of the 8,000 British troops who have been fighting in the southwestern province of Helmand to the city of Kandahar as part of a mission realignment. Many of the additional 30,000 American troops ordered into Afghanistan by President Obama will be sent to Helmand.

British officials had argued that many of the nearly 300 British soldiers who have been killed in the war died fighting in Helmand, and that giving way to the Marines would amount to surrendering territory that had been won with British lives.

Mr. Cameron said on Thursday: “In Helmand, there are now over 20,000 U.S. troops and 10,000 U.K. troops. I think it is important to let them get on with the very important work of delivering greater security in Helmand and making sure we have the right force density — the right number of troops — together with the Afghan national security forces throughout the province.”

By JOHN F. BURNS and ALAN COWELL

John F. Burns reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris.

Source: The New York Times

H.E Hamid Karzai President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the Third Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)

June 08, 2010, Istanbul

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

السلام علیکم و رحمت الله و برکاته

I would like to thank the government and people of Turkey for their warm reception and kind hospitality that have always made our visits to Turkey memorable. I am delighted to join the Third Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, and to convey the warm greetings of the people of Afghanistan.

I take this opportunity again to condemn the Israeli commando attack against efforts to bring humanitarian relief assistance to the besieged people of Gaza. I wish to express our deep condolences for the loss of life and injury to the government and people of Turkey resulting from this violent act. There is no doubt that such acts of violence blatantly trample respect for human dignity and undermine peaceful co-existence.

Earlier this year, Turkey’s initiative to host “the Summit on Friendship and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia”, focusing on Afghanistan’s security and development challenges, provided a clear example of Turkey’s dedication towards safeguarding peace and stability in our region. In assuming the Chairmanship of CICA, and hosting this Summit, Turkey once again displays its solid commitment to promoting mutual trust through dialogue, and to cementing strategic ties among Asian nations through confidence-building measures. I am convinced that under Turkey’s auspices, CICA will continue to be an effective platform for comprehensive engagement and cooperation across the region.

In June 2002, by signing the landmark Almaty Declaration, we committed to work in partnership to make Asia a common area of security, prosperity, and peaceful co-existence. Today, our commitment remains as strong as ever.

CICA was born due to the vision and efforts of His Excellency President Nursultan Nazarbayev. I commend President Nazarbayev for his visionary far-sightedness. I believe that CICA will be a long-lasting testimony to President Nazarbayev’s desire for comprehensive peace and security in our continent. As Kazakhstan assumes the chairmanship of the OSCE, we wish President Nazarbayev continued success in his mission for peace and security.

Afghanistan is delighted that CICA has grown in size and diversity. In this regard, we welcome the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Iraq as CICA’s newest members. We also welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as observers in this forum. Their participation in CICA will certainly enrich our dialogue, and give added impetus to our efforts for peace, security and mutual understanding.

Given the importance of CICA, Afghanistan is encouraged by the expansion of its collaboration with other regional and international bodies and institutions. We welcome, in particular, the establishment of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashqabad.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Factors endangering security in Asia are multifaceted, with terrorism, extremism, proliferation of nuclear weapons, trans- national organized crime, and illicit drugs as the most troubling problems.

Events across the globe clearly show that threats posed by terrorism and extremism are not specific to any one country. From Moscow to New York, from Istanbul to Mumbai, and from Kabul to Lahore, extremists and terrorists have killed, maimed, and created a climate of fear among millions of innocent citizens.

Terrorism should not be identified with any specific nationality or religion; neither should the fight against terrorism be subject to double standards. Without condition or reservation, we must all resolutely condemn and fight terrorism whenever and wherever it occurs, whoever it is directed against and in whatever form it appears.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the years, terrorism, trans-national organized crime, and illicit drugs have become interlinked, thus aggravating the threats to our common security. In response, we must make concerted efforts to expand our cooperation in interdiction, intelligence exchange, security consultations and training, as well as efficient border management.

For Afghanistan, the problem of narcotics production and trafficking is a by-product of three decades of conflict. Countering this problem requires time, patience, and most importantly, enhanced collaboration between transit- and consuming countries.

Excellencies,

The potential for economic growth in our region is enormous. Enhanced and effective cooperation in key fields such as trade, transit, transportation and energy would exponentially contribute to maintaining a virtuous cycle of peace and development in Asia. To this end, Afghanistan is actively working to regain its historic role as a land-bridge connecting south and central Asia with the Middle East. We are looking forward to the implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline for energy transportation to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan. We also look forward to the realization of the Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market Initiative (CASA 1000).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The people of Afghanistan appreciate the support of our friends in Asia and beyond in helping us to safeguard our security, territorial integrity, and stability. A stable and prosperous Afghanistan can contribute tremendously to the cause of stability and prosperity in our continent.

To achieve stability and prosperity in Afghanistan, we need enduring peace. Just a few days ago we held a Grand Consultative Assembly aimed at promoting dialogue and consensus-building required for achieving enduring peace. The events of the Grand Assembly fully displayed the unity of purpose and the desire of the Afghan nation for peace.

The participants of the Grand Peace Jirga gave strong recognition to the role that our brotherly Islamic nations can play in peace efforts in our country. They, with gratitude called upon the Custodian of Huramain and Sharifian, His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to continue to support Afghanistan’s efforts for peace and reconciliation. The Grand Assembly also expressed great appreciation to Turkey for facilitating the tripartite dialogue with Pakistan and invited its continued support in this regard.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Excellencies,

Our gathering today is witness to the fact that we are united by common goals to safeguard peace and stability in our continent, and to ensure our peoples’ security, well-being, and dignity. These common goals constitute the corner-stone of our mutual identity.

Let’s build our future on the foundation of this mutual identity with optimism, energy, and confidence.

Thank You.

Special Event on Security and Economic Cooperation in Eurasia in the 21st Century

Statement of H.E. Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul at the

“Special Event on Security and Economic Cooperation in Eurasia in the 21st Century.”

Istanbul – June 7, 2010

Excellencies,

Distinguished Colleagues,

I begin by thanking the government of Turkey for hosting the third CICA Summit, which brings together a unique and diverse group of countries from across Asia to promote regional and international peace and security. This year’s Summit is a reaffirmation of CICA’s commitment to stability in Asia and global security.

I’m also pleased at the opportunity to participate in this special forum on “Security and Economic Cooperation in Eurasia in the 21st Century.”

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It goes without saying that the 21st century sees us living in an interdependent world, in which common threats and challenges affect us all, irrespective of cultural, religious and geographical differences. I can say this for the menace of terrorism, which has proven its ability to strike anywhere, and at any time. This is clear with attacks across the globe: in Asia, Europe, Africa and North-America. This is also relevant with other challenges, including the global financial crisis, which led to economic hardships for millions around the world.

In this context, effective cooperation and collaboration is vital for overcoming present challenges and promoting global security. Achieving these requires effective collaboration: collaboration between and among states; states with regional and international organizations; and regional and international organizations amongst each other.

With regard to Afghanistan, thanks to the support of our international partners, today’s Afghanistan is much different than that of nine years ago, when our country served a base for international terrorism. We have come along way in promoting democracy, strengthening our state-institutions, and building our infrastructure, including roads, schools, hospitals and clinics.

In the coming years, we will work to implement our reinvigorated strategy for Afghanistan’s peace and stability. We will strive to increase Afghan security force capability to assume full security responsibility by the end of five years; enhance regional cooperation for addressing existing challenges; advance progress in the fight against corruption; as well as implement our comprehensive reconciliation strategy to consolidate peace and security across the country.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We know that consolidating peace and security requires not only military efforts, but also an effective political approach. That is why just last week we convened a national consultative peace-jirga, which brought together 1,600 representatives from all segments of society, including tribal and religious figures, civil society, members of parliament and women rights groups. The resolution adopted at the conclusion of the jirga offers a clear guideline for a successful outreach initiative. And we will spare no effort to implement the jirga’s resolution.

We count on the support of the international community and relevant regional partners, particularly the brotherly government of Pakistan to support and assist our reconciliation initiative. We also reiterate our appeal to international partners to contribute to our “peace and reconciliation trust-fund.” By the same token, we also know that defeating terrorism and improving security will not be possible in the absence of an effective regional effort for addressing terrorist sanctuaries and safe-havens in the region. Such support centers are a main source of insecurity in Afghanistan, and unless they are addressed, we will fail to defeat terrorism. We therefore stress increased focus and attention by relevant actors for achieving this goal.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Achieving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan will not be possible without sustained international support. The progress achieved thus far is the result of the joint efforts and sacrifices of the Afghan people and international partners. In this regard, the OSCE has delivered an important contribution for Afghanistan’s stabilization. OSCE support ranges from election support and monitoring, to training of Afghan border officials to prevent trafficking of illegal activities, including terrorism, narcotic drugs and their chemical precursors, and organized crime. In that regard, we also appreciate OSCE/ODIHR’s decision to dispatch an election support team for our up-coming parliamentary elections.

We also reiterate OSCE’s continued support towards Afghanistan, not only in present areas of cooperation, but other also other areas, which will help improve the lives of Afghans.

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regional economic cooperation is another vital factor for the stability and prosperity of Afghanistan and the region. In our part, we will spare no effort to increase trade and transit with countries of the region.

A number of important projects to this effect, including the CASA 1000 and TAPI pipeline, aimed at energy and electricity transfer in the region are underway. The steady implementation of the said projects is essential for the further development and prosperity of our region. In this regard, we note with satisfaction that the issue of regional economic cooperation has been rightly highlighted in the Third CICA Summit declaration, to be adopted at the conclusion our Summit gathering.

As one of the founding members of CICA, Afghanistan is fully committed to the goals and objectives of this forum. We are grateful for the forum’s support of stabilization efforts in our country, and would appreciate an assessment of possible areas of specific cooperation with Afghanistan.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan is an example of how various countries and regional and international organizations have come together for a common purpose and goal. Together, we come a long way, but much remains to be accomplished. Afghanistan fully supports the prospects of increased collaboration among the OSCE and CICA in relevant areas. Both the OSCE and CICA have proven effective in promoting regional and international peace and security. And we look for their continued role in support of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

I thank you.