Pakistan Urges US to Leave Afghanistan 'As Friend of the Region'

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures as he speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur border corridor which will officially open next year in Pakistan

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures as he speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur border corridor which will officially open next year in Pakistan

The prime minister referred to President Trump's letter asking for assistance in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table and said "I talked for years about how there was no military solution in Afghanistan, and they called me "Taliban Khan".

Families of Taliban leaders and fighters are believed to be residing among among almost three million Afghan refugees Pakistan still hosts. "There are no sanctuaries in Pakistan".

U.S. forces must remain in the bogged-down Afghanistan campaign, or terrorists might get back on their feet and launch another 9/11-scale attack on American people, General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Some 14,000 USA soldiers are now serving in Afghanistan, and McKenzie couldn't say how much longer the United States would remain in the country.

Prime Minister Imran while giving an interview to The Washington Post candidly commented, "I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun - given money to fight someone else's war".

The prime minister said Exxon Mobil was returning to Pakistan after long time, expressing the hope that the company would succeed in finding oil reserves in the country.

"Taking concrete steps that deny VEO safe havens in Pakistan, as well as VEO freedom of movement from Pakistan to Afghanistan, remains an important task that Pakistan needs to fulfil".

McKenzie said the US CENTCOM would continue to support the State Department as it works towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Afghanistan which includes ensuring that Islamabad's equities are acknowledged in any future agreement.

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Stoltenberg told reporters that the allies were "concerned about the high number of casualties" but said the increase in violence could be a sign that things are about to change.

"The security situation in Afghanistan remains hard, we have seen a number of high profile attacks in the past month, but the Afghan forces stand firms so do we. It has to be a regional solution, not just a solution centred in Afghanistan", Gen McKenzie replied.

It is in Pakistan's long-term interest to have a government in Afghanistan that is stable, and that that they can do business with, he said.

"I am glad that the government pressed for the opening of the corridor", he added.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday met Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

"Pakistan knows very clearly that their assistance will be required to reach an end state in Afghanistan". "They want our help to establish peace in Afghanistan and use whatever influence that we have over the [Afghan] Taliban", he said.

He said during a summit last July, NATO chose to strengthen its support to Afghanistan with more troops to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces so they can create the conditions for peace and reconciliation.

"If we left precipitously right now I do not believe they would be able to successfully defend their country", he said, adding that "the operational military situation is largely stalemated". "We'll see how they do in the first-generation phase of this winter", he said.

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