US, Pakistan, Afghanistan to hold regular trilateral meetings

February 27th, 2009 - 12:35 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Feb 27 (IANS) The US, Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to hold regular trilateral meetings to exchange views on strategic issues in the seven-year-old Afghan war against the Taliban militants.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the agreement Thursday after a three-day “valuable and unprecedented meeting” with high-level delegations from Afghanistan and Pakistan led by their foreign ministers as part of an ongoing US policy review.

She said their next trilateral meeting is tentatively scheduled for late April or early May.

“Our three nations have a common goal, a common threat and a common task, and my government commits itself to our friends and to the success of this common endeavour,” Clinton said with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta standing by her side.

The talks “have been in-depth, very specific, open, forthright, and I believe extremely useful”, she said, noting the basic purpose was to exchange views on the strategic issues being reviewed by the new Obama Administration. “That goal has been amply fulfilled.”

The meetings in Washington follow a tour of the region by the US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke aimed at easing tension over incursions by Taliban and Al Qaeda militants across their border.

Qureshi and Spanta emerged from talks in Washington Tuesday declaring they had reached a new environment of trust and confidence.

Spanta earlier said his call for more support to build Afghan security forces and to forge a broader war strategy met with a “very, very positive response” from his US hosts.

“My thesis is that the main threat centre of instability in the war is not Iraq; it is not Afghanistan. It is much more Pakistan,” he said.

Clinton assured Spanta the US was committed to Afghanistan, State Department spokesperson Robert Wood told reporters. “We’re going to do what we can to support them economically (and) politically. We’re going to work together with them to try to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”

President Barack Obama last week decided to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing US forces there to 55,000 by this summer.

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