“We have long supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process and we have applauded President Ashraf Ghani’s outreach to Pakistan for improvement of relations and are also in support of peace and reconciliation within Afghanistan,” he said.
As Islamabad prepares to host the Heart of Asia summit, the US special representative believes that the conference is an applicable platform for both countries to improve ties and fight terrorism together.
“Stability in this region is crucial and the upcoming Heart of Asia ministerial is an example of efforts to deepen regional integration to lead to greater peace, security and economic growth in the area. We appreciate the hard work and commitment of everyone to ensure a stable future for Afghanistan and the rest of the region. We think it is an excellent opportunity for Afghanistan to play a leading role in developing regional cooperation particularly in the field of counter-terrorism,” Olson added.
“While the US combat mission in Afghanistan has ended, our commitment to the government and people of Afghanistan and the security forces has not. The United States will continue to work with and support the Afghan security forces and impress with their growing capabilities. As you know President [Barack] Obama announced in October that the United States will extend our significant troop presence in Afghanistan in line with continuing security needs and strong partnership with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah [Abdullah],” Olson said.
Despite a much heralded thaw in relations between Kabul and Islamabad under Ghani during his first ten months in office, relations between the two countries deteriorated following a range of deadly attacks on Afghan major cities. But now all eyes are on the Heart of Asia conference to see whether it will ease tensions.