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US promises Afghan support

world Updated: Jan 13, 2011 01:16 IST

US vice president Biden on Tuesday pledged long-term American support for Afghanistan, offering a commitment to help the war-torn nation beyond the 2014 target both countries have set to have Afghans fully in charge of their own security.

The day after he arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit, Biden toured a training academy for Afghan soldiers, had lunch with President Hamid Karzai and said he was confident of the effectiveness of the US counterinsurgency strategy.

“We’ve largely arrested the Taliban momentum here in some very important areas,” Biden said, speaking alongside Karzai. “But these gains — as you pointed out to me, Mr President — we know are fragile and reversible.”

During the intense Washington debate leading to the dispatch of 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan last year, Biden argued for a smaller military footprint, more focused on counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

NATO, including the United States, has pledged economic and security assistance beyond 2014, and the US is separately negotiating its own long-term strategic accord with Afghanistan. It is unclear whether any such agreement would involve an ongoing U.S. troop presence.

Later, Biden arrived in Islamabad for a day visit with senior Pakistani officials. He met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, before leaving for US.

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