U.S. Ambassador Cunningham: No intent to divide Afghanistan

July 19, 2013 at 1:41 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, July 19 (UPI) -- A claim by a top aide to the Afghan president that the United States seeks to divide Afghanistan to give part to the Taliban is "nonsense," the U.S. envoy said.

In a statement carried by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on its website, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham rejected the allegation by Karim Khurram, chief of staff to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a recent interview with a local television channel.

"The allegation that the United States seeks to divide Afghanistan by giving a share to the Taliban is nonsense and completely without foundation," Cunningham said. "The U.S. supports a peaceful, democratic, and united Afghanistan. This is the bedrock principle of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, now and in the future."

Khaama Press quoted Khurram as telling the private television channel the recent opening of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, was a conspiracy to divide Afghanistan, and that the United States, Pakistan and Qatar were involved in the plan.

Cunningham said the United States "has not spent blood and resources, alongside our Afghan comrades, in pursuit of any other purpose than a stable Afghanistan that can provide for the security of its people, strengthen its institutions, and pursue the future which its people deserve."

Afghans are responsible for making decisions about the future of Afghanistan and that the upcoming elections are essential for Afghanistan's future regardless of who the Afghans vote for, the U.S. envoy said.

"Afghanistan will continue to have a strong, committed partner in the United States as Afghans build their own future," Cunningham said. "The bilateral security agreement we are negotiating is similar to agreements we have with many of our friends around the world. It will make possible our continued security cooperation after 2014, and we are ready to resume these negotiations at any time."

The bilateral security agreement negotiations, which remain suspended, are designed to work out how many U.S. troops would remain Afghanistan after NATO's coalition forces complete their withdrawal from the country by the end of 2014. The negotiations were suspended by Afghanistan after the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar.

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