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US not to leave unless peace returns to Afghanistan

Till then, he ruled out any changes in the current American troop presence in Afghanistan


Washington: The US would reassess its presence in Afghanistan only after reconciliation that lowers violence, a top American commander based in the war-torn said today. Till then, he ruled out any changes in the current American troop presence in Afghanistan.

“I think that, once achieve the ends of the South Asia strategy, a reconciliation that lowers the violence to a level that they can manage, that will be the time to re-assess our presence,” General John Nicholson, who is Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan said during a press conference from Kabul.

Now, what’s been encouraging is that, concurrent with this intensified dialogue, we saw the levels of violence drop to lower levels. Specifically, between February, when these offers were made, and the end of April, the levels of enemy-initiated violence dropped to 30% below the five-year average, he said.

Then, on 25 April, the Taliban announced their offensive. In the months since we have seen the violence increase, but still to a level that is 10% to 12% below the five-year average. I call this talking and fighting, the US commander said.

At the same time, he praised Afghan security forces which he said has made tremendous progress in the fight against terrorism.

The Afghan Air Force flew their first sortie two years ago, in an A-29. Today, they’re dropping laser-guided bombs. We provided them UH-60 helicopters in September; they’re flying their first combat missions now, he said.

The of the South Asia strategy is reconciliation, and, as President Ashraf Ghani says, it’s been a -changer, Nicholson said. Within six months of President Donald Trump’s announcement and the implementation of the strategy, we had the elements of a peace proposal outlined by the Taliban in an open letter to America and a formal peace offer by President Ghani, he said.

Ghani’s proposal was unanimously endorsed by the international community at the Kabul peace process conference and at the Tashkent conference. Diplomatic activity picked up substantially at that point, and a number of channels of dialogue have opened up between the various stakeholders in the peace process, the American general noted.


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