US eyes strong relationship with Afghanistan
Washington: The United States wants to maintain a strong enduring relationship with Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said as the former is gearing up for a complete security transition in this war torn country by 2014.
"We are obviously analysing our between-now-and-end- of-2014 presence and what we need to do to effectively complete our mission and fulfil the strategy that we've laid out with our international partners," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters at his news conference yesterday.
"Then there is the question of post-2014 presence in our enduring relationship with Afghanistan. We've made it clear that we want to maintain a strong, enduring relationship with our Afghan allies," Little said.
The Pentagon continues to work closely to analyse what the requirements might be between now and the end of 2014, in concert with the Lisbon strategy, he said.
"We have not submitted to the White House our formal analysis on that drawdown. We will do so in the near future," the Pentagon spokesperson said when asked about the schedule of drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan next year.
A report in this regard is believed to have been submitted by General John Allen, the Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. No final decision has been made yet.
"There are regular discussions with ISAF, including General Allen, on the scope and pace of the drawdown. I don't have anything to announce today. And I'm not sure that I would put too much stock in a formal presentation to the Pentagon. This is really a conversation that's occurring. And we'll obviously work through the formal process inside the department and with the White House," Little said.
In response to another question, Little said the United States continues to deal very aggressively with the Haqqani militant network that is funnelling fighters and threatens American, Afghan and ISAF partner's lives in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani network was recently designated as a terrorist outfit and sanctions have been slapped against several of its leaders.