The top US diplomat in Kabul on Tuesday advised the Afghan government to resolve border disputes with Pakistan through diplomatic channels, saying Washington will remain neutral in the bilateral issue.
Comments from US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham came just a day after the Afghan government sought Washington’s support against Pakistan’s alleged ‘rocket attacks’. Pakistan denies firing rockets into Afghanistan and insists that militants recently launched attacks in Bajaur Agency from the Afghan side of the border.
“We do not have precise information about the attacks and Washington will continue to encourage the two neighbours to resolve the issue through negotiations,” Ambassador Cunningham was quoted as saying.
On Monday, the Afghan foreign ministry launched a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, approaching the US Embassy and saying Washington is bound to help Kabul counter ‘external threats’ under a strategic partnership agreement signed in 2012. However, the Afghan media reported on Tuesday that the US ambassador issued a formal response saying the issue should be resolved through diplomatic channels.
On Saturday, Pakistan military officials said nearly 200 Pakistani Taliban from Bajaur and Swat now operate from the Afghan side of the border, and had launched an attack on Pakistani border posts, killing a soldier and injuring several others. The army stated that 16 militants were killed in the attack.
Top security and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan is ready to extend every possible help to Afghanistan in order to ensure a peaceful second round of elections on June 14. “We will be ready to offer any help that the Afghan side wants to hold the elections in a peaceful environment,” Aziz told The Express Tribune in Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2014.
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