US, Afghan vow to strengthen ties despite `differences`

The United States and Afghanistan on Tuesday vowed to enhance bilateral ties not withstanding a recent spat saying "differences" are a sign of maturing relationship and reflection of trust between them.

Washington: The United States and Afghanistan
on Tuesday vowed to enhance bilateral ties not withstanding a
recent spat saying "differences" are a sign of maturing
relationship and reflection of trust between them.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after her meet with
visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said the US will not
"abandon" the Afghan people when the international combat
mission in the war-ravaged country ends next year.
"As we look toward a responsible, orderly transition in
the international combat mission in Afghanistan, we will not
abandon the Afghan people. Our civilian commitment will remain
long into the future," Clinton said.

In his remarks, Karzai raised the issue of civilian
casualties which he said needs to be stopped. He also sought
continued US assistance so that Afghanistan can become
independent in the long run.

"Once we are on our feet, with our own economy, with our
mineral resources, with our business, with Afghan becoming a
hub for transportation in central Asia and south and west
Asia, ...we will remain a good and economically viable partner
of the United States and other allies," Karzai said.

The current trip of Karzai to Washington was considered
to be doubtful about a month ago when the White House said it
was "troubled" by his remarks that US and its allies were
interfering in international affairs of his country and that
western forces were responsible for irregularity in the last
year`s presidential elections.

"As we move forward, we can`t expect the United States
and Afghanistan to agree on every issue. We will not. That is
a given in a relationship between two sovereign nations,"
Clinton said.
She noted both President Obama and Karzai "understand
that the ability to disagree on issues of importance to our
respective countries and peoples is not an obstacle to
achieving our shared objectives. Rather, it reflects a level
of trust that is essential to any meaningful dialogue and
enduring strategic partnership."

Karzai termed it as a sign of maturing relationship
between the countries and said they will continue to have
differences.

"You very rightly remark, Madame Secretary, that as two
mature nations and as two mature governments -- by now, the
Afghan government is mature too -- we`ll be having
disagreements on issues from time to time," he said.

"But that is the sign of a matured relationship and the
sign of a steady relationship. And this steady and mature
relationship is definitely going to get us the objectives, in
pursuit of which we have joined hands to bring security to
Afghanistan and by extension to the United States and the rest
of the world," Karzai said.

Earlier Clinton said though the progress in Afghanistan
is real, it is also fragile.

"So it will take time and persistence to cement the gains
already made and to secure more as we confront the challenges.
Our strategic partnership aims to do that through long-term
and deep collaboration between our governments and our
peoples," she said.

PTI

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