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Quran row: No change in Afghan strategy, says US

Source: PTI
February 28, 2012 11:44 IST
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The United States has ruled out any change in its Afghanistan strategy in view of the recent violence in the restive country, particularly the killing of American servicemen after the burning of Qurans at a military base.

The Pentagon said that it will not let recent violence lose sight of the progress and broader achievements in Afghanistan. "We will not let recent events allow us to lose sight of the progress we are making toward our broader objectives, including our core goal of defeating the Al Qaeda and its terrorist allies and denying it the ability to maintain a safe haven in Afghanistan," Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told the media.

The US appreciates the effort of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior leaders who have called for calm and an end to violent protests,' Little said.

"We commend the hard work and sacrifice of the Afghan security forces who have suffered casualties attempting to quell the violence," he said,

The Obama administration said that it is committed to complete security transition in Afghanistan by 2014 and determined to wipe out the Al Qaeda and terrorism from the region, even as the recent developments and violence in the country appeared to be setback to some. "We have as an objective the stabilisation of the Afghan government to allow Afghanistan and its government the space and time to take over security of its own country. That process is well under way," White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney told reporters.

"The president has made clear that we are drawing down our forces in Afghanistan. We have been drawing down from the surge force level already, and will continue that process.  And he has made clear that we will turn over full lead, security lead, to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. He will continue to have discussions with our NATO allies in this effort and our ISAF allies at the NATO summit in Chicago in May," he said.

Acknowledging that it is a difficult mission in Afghanistan, Carney said, "We can't forget what the mission is, though, and the fact that the need to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the Al Qaeda remains. The need to prevent Afghanistan from being a haven for Al Qaeda to launch attacks against the United States remains."

The US will continue in that effort, he asserted. The overall importance of defeating the Al Qaeda remains, he said.

On Saturday, a United Nations compound came under attack as thousands of demonstrators assembled around it in Kunduz province, but they were driven back when police fired into the crowd.

The incident at the US-run military base forced a series of American officials, including US President Barack Obama to apologise to the Afghan people.

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