'US efforts have weakened Taliban in Afghanistan'



Washington: The US on Friday said its operations in Afghanistan for over a decade have reaped significant success and because of its efforts, the Taliban now stands as a "seriously weakened" unit in the country.

"We have seriously weakened the Taliban. They do remain resilient. We know they're still out there. But we have been able to take the battle to the Taliban and prevent them from gaining any territory that they lost. We are continuing to do that," Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said.

"We're not going to walk backward from what has been accomplished. We have poured a lot of blood and treasure in this war. But the fact is that we have also made a lot of progress as a result of the sacrifices," he said.

Furthermore, Washington has helped Afghanistan's security forces in increasingly improving their ability to be operational, a factor which he noted to be crucial during the post-transition period after 2014.

"We are seeing an ANSF, an Afghan military, that is increasingly improving its ability to be operational. We have now gone through a transition of areas that involve almost 75 percent of Afghan population, and those transitions are working. They're moving in the right direction."

"It is the ANSF that's providing the primary security with regards to all of those areas," Panetta said.

Washington's efforts, besides contributing to the security front, have also made possible improvements in social parameters like health and education, he further said.

Terming his meeting with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai as highly successful, Panetta said the whole issue of transition, including US commitments towards Kabul after completion of the process in 2014, were discussed in the meeting.

"I think it's fair to say that we made some very good progress on all of the key issues that we discussed. Our meeting, will help lay the groundwork for President Karzai's discussions tomorrow with President Obama on these and other topics," Panetta said.

"I also assured the (Afghan) President that my successor as Secretary of Defence will be equally committed to working with him and (Afghan Defence) Minister Mohammadi," he added.

PTI