`Afghan soil won’t be used to launch attacks post 2014`

Last Updated: Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 00:02

Doha: Afghan soil will not be used to launch attacks against any country after foreign troops withdraw, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister said on Friday.

"Afghan soil will not be used against any country in the region," Zalmai Rassoul said, when asked if the United States would be allowed to continue drone attacks on Pakistan after all foreign combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

"The presence of the remaining forces in Afghanistan is for training, equipping and securing Afghanistan`s security. It has been mentioned, it is going to be mentioned, that this force is not for use against any neighbours in the region," Rassoul was quoted as saying by Al-Jazeera in an interview, excerpts of which were received by a news agency today.

The US drone war on Islamist militants in Pakistan is one of the major sticking points in Washington`s relations with Islamabad, which reached their lowest point last year when airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, six months after a covert US raid killed Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan responded by shutting its Afghan border to NATO supplies and evicting US personnel from an air base reportedly used as a hub by US drones.

US President Barack Obama in January confirmed for the first time that US drones target Taliban and al Qaeda militants on Pakistani soil, but American officials do not discuss details of the covert programme.

According to a news agency’s tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan`s tribal belt in 2009, the year Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011.

The Al-Jazeera interview, in which the Afghan Foreign Minister reiterated his desire to improve long-strained relations with neighbouring Pakistan, is due to be broadcast tomorrow. (AFP)

PTI



First Published: Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 00:01

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