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Operation against Taliban or peace talks, we are with Pakistan: US

24 January, 2014

ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson has said that United States will be supportive of Pakistan whatever course of action it takes against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

Olson said it was the internal matter of Pakistan whether to take military action against the Taliban or to hold peace talks with them.

"This is up to the government of Pakistan, and the United States will support it," the US ambassador said in a televised interview on Pakistan Television News.

He said the US wishes Pakistan success in coping with the challenges related to its internal security.

"We are not anti-peace process," he said and added that the US does have an interest in the foreign groups that threaten it.

About Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike, the ambassador said Mehsud was involved in the attacks in the United States including the Times Square bombing and several terror incidents in Afghanistan.

He also mentioned Mehsud's interview with the BBC last September where he made it clear that he would continue to attack the Untied States.

Olson extended condolence to the families who had been victim of the terrorist acts of Taliban and termed it "regrettable". He said the recent upsurge in terrorist attacks in Pakistan also highlighted the nature of challenge.

About the impact of blockade of NATO supplies by the PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ambassador Olson said the United States has an agreement with the government of Pakistan for keeping the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) open for the NATO supplies destined for Afghanistan, and Pakistan has assured that its border with Torkham was open.

Olson said the agreement was also a commercial intent as it provided business and employment opportunity to Pakistani businessmen involved in the field of transportation and related activities.

He said the United States has many ways of getting its goods into and from Afghanistan; through the Central Asian States, by air and by a variety of other means.

"However, the primary impact of the blockade of the supply routes would be on the livelihood of Pakistani businessmen including the truckers, and not on the US war efforts in Afghanistan."

Regarding the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, Ambassador Olson said 2014 would mark the end of political, economic and security transition. He said the security duties would shift from the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) to Afghan security forces.

In this regard, he mentioned the importance of the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan and said it would help the political transition.

Regarding the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, he said the United States and Pakistan were committed to continued cooperation between the governments and their people across a wide range of issues, which were in the interests of both the countries.

He said the next round of the dialogue to be held on Monday in Washington would focus on bilateral cooperation, law enforcement and counterterrorism, economic growth and finance, energy, defence, and strategic stability.


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