Progress in Afghan has made US safer; still work to do: White House

Tremendous progress achieved in Afghanistan has made the US safer, but still a lot of work has to be done in the war torn country for the advancement of national security interests, the White House has said, a day after a Taliban bomb blast in Kabul killed 30 people.

PTI| Updated: Apr 20, 2016, 07:52 AM IST

Washington: Tremendous progress achieved in Afghanistan has made the US safer, but still a lot of work has to be done in the war torn country for the advancement of national security interests, the White House has said, a day after a Taliban bomb blast in Kabul killed 30 people.

"There is no denying that tremendous progress that we have made in Afghanistan, it has made America safer. But there are years of work, decades of work that still needs to be done in that region of the world to continue to advance our national security interests," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.

The White House remarks came as the Afghan capital Kabul was hit by a major terrorist attack.

"The US strongly condemns the cowardly attack on Afghan forces and civilians in Kabul this morning that killed dozens and wounded hundreds. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their loved ones," he said.

At the outset of this year's fighting season, the US remain committed to support the Afghan people and their government, Earnest said as he called on the Taliban to pursue a pathway of peace instead of continuing a military campaign responsible for the senseless deaths of Afghan civilians.

"We remain steadfast partners with Afghan security forces as we work to promote peace and stability in the region and as we counter the threat of terrorism that affects all of us.

"I do not have an updated assessment in terms of what if any impact this attack would have on our military posture going forward. Obviously the President had an opportunity to talk about this at the end of last year. And this will be among the important policy decisions that the incoming President, President Obama's successor, will have to make," Earnest said.

When Barack Obama took office in 2009, he did so vowing to follow through on a campaign promise to ensure that the US and the international community was focused on the terror threat that was emanating from this region of the world, he said.

"And the sense was - not just the sense of President Obama, but also the sense of the American people - was that our attention had drifted from Afghanistan and been diverted to the situation in Iraq.
"Obama vowed to recalibrate that situation and to ensure that we were reinforcing our efforts in Afghanistan and in that region of the world where we know the al-Qaeda leadership, under the protection of the Taliban, had carried out the 9/11 attacks against the US," Earnest said.

Obama, he said, has executed a military and diplomatic strategy that has decimated core al-Qaeda, that took Osama bin Laden off the battlefield, and that has supported an Afghan government that is committed to the kind of security approach that we're supporting.

At least 30 people were killed and hundreds injured when a Taliban truck bomb tore through central Kabul yesterday.