The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a debate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC on Wednesday that the United States will remain in Afghanistan as long as the Taliban refuse to join the peace process.
Responding at the debate titled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century,” Tillerson said, “So it is about a commitment, a message to the Taliban and other elements that we’re not going anywhere. And so we’ll be here as long as it takes for you to change your mind and decide you want to engage with the Afghan government in a reconciliation process and develop a form of government that does suit the needs of the culture of Afghanistan.”
Tillerson called on Islamabad to take concrete steps against terrorists.
He said, “Pakistan, too, is an important US partner in South Asia. Our relationships in the region stand on their own merits. We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders that threaten their own people and the broader region. In doing so, Pakistan furthers stability and peace for itself and its neighbours, and improves its own international standing.”
Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan is the greatest beneficiaries of removal of terrorism from Afghanistan, said the US Secretary of State. “And so, to the extent, we can remove that as an opportunity for terrorism in Afghanistan, the greatest beneficiaries are going to be Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
He also termed India as a strategic partner of Washington in establishing peace in Afghanistan.
“And as we implement President Trump’s new South Asia strategy, we will turn to our partners to ensure greater stability in Afghanistan and throughout the region. India is a partner for peace in Afghanistan, and we welcome their assistance efforts,” he stated.
Tillerson said the US government would destroy terrorist safe havens wherever they are and that it will cut off their financial sources and other chances.
“Our policy, quite simply, on terrorism is that we will deny terrorists the opportunity, the means, the location, the wherewithal, the financing, the ability to organize and carry out attacks against Americans at home and abroad, anywhere in the world,” he said.