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Top US official made a surprise visit to Afghanistan: Pence warns Pakistan over terrorist “Safe Havens” 

AT News Report-KABUL: The US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday visited Afghanistan in an unannounced trip, meeting President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, discussing the country’s situation and reaffirmed his country’ support to Afghanistan. He also called on Pakistan—the neighbor hostile, to stop harboring militant groups that since long time has been undermined the US-led coalition’s mission in Afghanistan.

Due to security concerns, his visit was not made public just before he left Afghanistan

President Ashraf Ghani met with the Vice-President of the United States Mike Pence on Thursday evening during a high-level delegation to Kabul led by Vice President Pence, a statement from Presidential Palace said.

The meeting took place at the Presidential Palace in Kabul and was attended by senior National Unity Government officials.

President Ghani welcomed Vice-President Pence and his delegation and appreciated the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers, along with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, in the fight against terrorism, the statement added. The President also commended the continued support of the U.S. for the people and government of Afghanistan.

The two sides stressed that 2017 has been a year full of achievements in terms of developing the security and defense sectors and focused counter-narcotics efforts. They reiterated the need for timely parliamentary and presidential elections.

President Ghani stated that Afghan-U.S. relations are built on mutual strategic interests and are being strengthened further.  The President called the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia an opportunity for peace and stability in Afghanistan, which is central to stability and development in the entire region.

He also highlighted the achievements of the Afghan government in delivering on promises to cut corruption, implement reforms to increase transparent and effectiveness governance, and nurture regional cooperation.

Vice-President Pence expressed his gratitude for the warm reception, and reaffirmed that the U.S. will continue and further enhance its support to the government and people of Afghanistan.

He commended the performance of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and acknowledged the progress of National Unity Government to counter-corruption, promote effective governance, further the peace process and pursue regional cooperation.

Vice-President Pence remarked that peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan constitute the pivotal objectives of the U.S. Strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. He assured the Afghan government of continued U.S. assistance in areas of economic development and efforts to pursue peace and stability, the statement added.

Moreover, while addressing 15,000 US forces in Bagram Airfield, Pence besides appreciating their efforts, warned Pakistan against offering safe havens to terrorists.

He reiterated word for word President Donald Trump’s warning that Pakistan must stop offering cross border safe havens to Taliban factions and armed militant groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States, and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists,” Pence sad, adding “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”

The American people deserve to know that with the courage of everyone gathered here, we’re making real progress in this fight for freedom in Afghanistan,” he said, adding, “We’ve dramatically increased American air strikes. And together with our Afghan partners, we’ve put the Taliban on the defensive.”

He furthered: “All across this country we’ve won new victories against the terrorists, no matter what they call themselves or where they try to hide.”

 

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