US, Afghans, Pakistan see 'common threat'

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States vowed to fight a common threat of terrorism, pledging to chart out a new strategy despite sharp differences simmering below the surface.
HT Image
HT Image
Updated on Feb 27, 2009 09:49 AM IST
Copy Link
AFP | By, Washington

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States vowed on Thursday to fight a common threat of terrorism, pledging to chart out a new strategy despite sharp differences simmering below the surface.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the three countries would hold a regular dialogue after she met in Washington with the South Asian neighbors' foreign ministers for talks she called "valuable and unprecedented."

"Our three nations have a common goal, a common threat and a common task. And my government commits itself to our friends and to the success of this common endeavor," Clinton told reporters.

She said the next trilateral talks were set tentatively for late April or early May.

President Barack Obama has vowed a new focus on fighting a resurgent Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the region and is sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan as his administration winds down the US involvement in Iraq.

Afghan Defense Minister Mohammad Rahim Wardak, who came to Washington for the talks, welcomed the fresh deployments and hoped they would help rid the country of remnants of the Taliban regime, which was ousted in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

"We can expect 2009 to be a critical year and we should be prepared for the challenges and yet we are optimistic to turn the tide in our favor," Wardak told a Washington think tank.

"We still lack sufficient forces and equipment to hold our gains and to facilitate good governance and development.

"The requirements of our national security forces are urgent and undeniable," he added.

The three-way meeting comes as relations sharply improve between Kabul and Islamabad after civilian Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari took over last year from former army chief Pervez Musharraf.

But Zardari's government has remained under pressure from both Kabul and Washington, which are concerned that insurgents fleeing Afghanistan enjoy a virtual safe haven in Pakistan's lawless border areas.

Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy to the region, has voiced dismay after Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire with pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan's Swat Valley in a deal that includes the imposition of Islamic sharia law.

Holbrooke took part in the three-way talks along with General David Petraeus, who commands US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Holbrooke worried the Swat Valley deal amounts to a surrender after a bloody two-year campaign by militants who have attacked girls' schools and entertainment in the onetime ski resort.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi defended the deal, saying it neutralized the threat of extremists by meeting local concerns.

His Afghan counterpart, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, said that while he strongly supported the new Zardari government, nuclear-armed Pakistan remained a top worry for Afghanistan as it fights militants.

"My thesis is that the main threat center for instability in the world is not Iraq, it is not Afghanistan, it is much more Pakistan," Spanta said.

"If Pakistan becomes a failed state, it is a serious threat for you, for us and for the entire region."

But Pakistan has concerns of its own that it wants addressed.

Qureshi said Pakistan wanted the United States to consider ending US drone attacks inside the country that have killed militants but also civilians, inflaming local opinion.

He said after the talks that he felt optimistic about dealing with the Obama, whose predecessor George W Bush was closely allied with military ruler Musharraf.

"We get the sense from this administration that they are really willing to listen to us," Qureshi said.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • File photo of Ghislaine Maxwell.

    Ghislaine Maxwell put on suicide watch: Lawyers

    Ghislaine Maxwell, is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday for her December conviction for helping her then-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, the globe-trotting financier and convicted sex offender, abuse girls between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors say she deserves between 30 and 55 years in prison. She told psychology staff she was not suicidal. Prosecutors said the jail's warden will oversee an investigation. Maxwell wants less than 20 years, arguing she is being scapegoated for Epstein's crimes.

  • G7 leaders during a working lunch to discuss shaping the global economy at Schloss Elmau in Kuren, Germany, on Sunday. 

    G7 leaders mock Putin in jokes about stripping off

    World leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin's tough-man image at a G7 lunch in Germany on Sunday, joking about whether they should strip down to shirtsleeves -- or even less. "Jackets on? Jackets off? Do we take our coats off?" The leaders -- from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union -- pondered the dilemma. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson interjected: "We've got to show them our pecs."

  • Police are seen outside a township pub in South Africa's southern city of East London.

    At least 20 dead in South African club; cause not yet known

    South African police are investigating the deaths of at least 20 people at a nightclub in the coastal town of East London early Sunday. “At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death,” said health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana. Police Minister Bheki Cele was on Sunday morning expected to visit the scene. The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early Sunday morning.

  • France was one of several US allies to condemn the decision, with President Emmanuel Macron denouncing a threat to women’s freedom.

    US Supreme Court decision spurs French government into action

    Politicians representing a parliamentary majority on Saturday voiced support for a bill enshrining abortion rights in France's constitution, after the US Supreme Court revoked the nationwide legal protection for American people to terminate pregnancies. The landmark ruling by the conservative-majority court on Friday overturned almost five decades of constitutional protections for abortion in the United States, allowing individual states to regulate the procedure. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the government would support the bill “wholeheartedly”.

  • President Joe Biden speaks and formally launches the global infrastructure partnership, on the margins of the G7 Summit in Elmau, Germany.

    G7 unveils rival to China’s BRI

    US President Joe Biden announced on Sunday a G7 project to rival China's Belt and Road Initiative by raising some $600 billion for global infrastructure programmes in poor countries. “Together with G7 partners, we aim to mobilise $600 billion by 2027 in global infrastructure investments,” the White House said shortly ahead of a speech by Biden unveiling the proposal.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, June 27, 2022