US seeks Pakistan's support in Afghanistan
Washington, Feb 14 : As the US prepares to pull out from Afghanistan, it has sought Pakistan's support on "our shared interest in regional stability, including a secure and peaceful future for Afghanistan."
The issue came up when the new US Secretary of State John Kerry called Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday, the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Wednesday.
"Kerry has a longstanding relationship with many Pakistani leaders, and he used the opportunity of the phone call to underscore the continuing importance of an effective, strong, and mutually beneficial US-Pakistani relationship," she said
He emphasised that Pakistan and the United States have many shared interests, including fighting terrorism and extremism, supporting democratic civilian institutions, and supporting Pakistan's efforts to increase economic growth, Nuland said.
Also discussed was "obviously our shared interest in regional stability, including a secure and peaceful future for Afghanistan."
"Kerry, the spokesperson said, noted "our ongoing interest in finding a concrete way to act jointly in support of all of these goals, and he made clear that he looks forward to working with President Zardari going forward."
In his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of the US Congress Tuesday night, Obama announced that 34,000 soldiers will come home from Afghanistan within a year, and that America's "war in Afghanistan will be over" by the end of 2014.
Obama also said US forces will move into a support role this coming spring while Afghan security forces take lead.
Asked if Afghanistan's reconciliation process also came up and what were Kerry's expectations for Pakistan on the process, Nuland suggested that Washington, Islamabad and Kabul were on the same page on the issue.
"We have been in a good place in recent months - Afghanistan, Pakistan, US - in terms of using the core group that we established to support Afghanistan reconciliation to work through some of the practical issues like safe passage for Taliban who are willing to consider reconciliation," she said.
"As you can see from some of the moves that have been going on between Afghanistan and Pakistan, they are also having a better dialogue now about facilitating reconciliation. So we would hope that that trend could continue," Nuland added.