The US Central Command Commander General Joseph Dunford said the strategic situation in Afghanistan has not changed and that military activities in Afghanistan are aimed at supporting the efforts by US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
He said military pressure on the Taliban has resulted the group to sit in negotiations table for the first time.
“Everything that we are doing now on military space led by General Miller on the ground is in support of Ambassador Khalilzad’s efforts. I think on the ground by a large, the general strategic situation has not changed, but General Miller has incorporated elements of the strategy to increase the pressure on Taliban leadership and we do believe that some of that pressure has contributed to the fact that Taliban are now at the peace table for the first time since the war begin,” Dunford said.
Dunford said the reason behind US’s incorporate military and political efforts in Afghanistan is to provide the condition for the US presence in South Asia to protect the Americans against possible attack by insurgent groups.
“The reason why we are in Afghanistan is to prevent attacks against American people and homeland. So, the combinations of support for the Afghans allows them to put pressure on the Taliban also create the conditions for us to have effective counterterrorism presence in South Asia to secure the American people,” Dunford added.
The US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, meanwhile, said for the first time a chance has been provided in Afghanistan for a political peace settlement in the last 40 years.
Shanahan said Washington incorporate military and political efforts in Afghanistan aimed to prevent this country from becoming a safe haven for insurgents.
“We support the ongoing negotiations, the best window for peace there in 40 years,” said Shanahan.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the future of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan has knotted to the Afghan peace talks.
Presenting his annual report on Thursday, he said more time needed until the US and Taliban reach a final agreement about the talks.
“And then depending, of course, on the outcome of these talks that will then create the basis for any decisions about the future presence. But it’s too early to pre-empt the outcome of the talks, simply because they haven’t been finalized. There’s still much to be done before we have a peace deal in place,” Stoltenberg said.