State Department: U.S does not share pessimistic view of Afghanistan’s future after U.S. forces withdrawal
Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Jan. 19 / Trend H. Hasanov /
The U.S does not share a pessimistic view of Afghanistan's future after U.S. forces withdraw from there, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the US Department of State Robert O. Blake, Jr. said at the media roundtable in Ashgabat.
According to one of the questions - most of the heads of state in Central Asia have a very pessimistic view of the region's future after U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
"No, we don't share that view," Blake said. "As you know, Afghan President Karzai just paid a very important visit to Washington last week. And, in his press conference with President Karzai, President Obama made several important points."
First he made the point that most cities in Afghanistan and most Afghans are today more secure, and the insurgents continue to lose territory, he said.
"At the same time, the Afghan National Security Forces continue to grow stronger and now lead 80 percent of the security operations that are being conducted in Afghanistan," he said. "And, by February, they'll be in control of security in areas where 90 percent of the population lives."
"And I think importantly for Central Asians, the President announced that we will be announcing a responsible drawdown of our forces from Afghanistan that protects the gains that we and Afghanistan have made over the last several years," he said. "After 2014, U.S. security forces will be focused on continuing to train and assist Afghan forces, but also continuing the very important counterterrorism mission. The exact number of U.S. troops is the subject of negotiations that are now going on between the United States and Afghanistan."
"But a very important part of helping Afghanistan to ensure its own future will be to help ensure a proper economic transition, and again I want to thank Turkmenistan for the important role that it is playing to support regional integration efforts, and also to provide electricity to our friends in Afghanistan," he said. "As I said earlier, the TAPI project is one of the most important regional integration projects, because it will provide Turkmen gas for the growing Indian market, but it will also provide very substantial transit revenues for Afghanistan and Pakistan."
"Important progress has been made on the TAPI pipeline already by virtue of the gas sales purchase agreements and the road show that took place last September," he said. "The next step will be for a consortium to be formed and the details of that, of course, are still being worked out. I leave it to the government of Turkmenistan to provide any updates on that, because this will be their decision about who should form such a consortium and who should lead it. But this was an active topic of conversation today."