Pence on Afghanistan visit

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US Vice President Mike Pence surpirse trip to Afghanistan to meet its leaders and underscore America’s commitment to the country four months after President Donald Trump agreed to an open-ended war against insurgents here.

Pence said; “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days to shelter terrorists have gone. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists.”

He said President Trump has “put Pakistan on notice for providing safe haven” to the terrorists on its soil.

“For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over.. President Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” Pence told American troops at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.

Pence arrived on a military plane at Bagram Airfield on Thursday night after leaving Washington on Wednesday night.

He then flew by helicopter to Kabul, where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the presidential palace.

Pence told the leaders he hoped his presence there was tangible evidence that the US was “here to see this through”.

Trump in August pledged a stepped-up military campaign against Taliban insurgents and signalled the US would send more troops to fight in what is the longest war in its history against his election campaign.At the end of August, there were some 11,000 US troops in Afghanistan and more have since arrived.

Ghani expressed gratitude to the US government and said Afghanistan’s partnership with the United States was cemented in sacrifice.

Pence told reporters the strategy of increased troops on the ground and greater authorities for military leaders was paying dividends.

“The results are really beginning to become evident around the country,” he said, adding that Ghani and Abdullah had said, “they’ve begun to see a sea change in the attitudes among the Taliban”.

Pence said their hope was that “eventually the enemy will tire of losing” and be willing to talk peace.

Asked if more troops would be needed, Pence said that would be a decision for Trump in the days ahead.

Pence said he pressed the Afghan leaders for political reforms and Ghani assured him that an election commission was developing a framework for parliamentary elections in 2018.

Pence had originally planned to travel to Israel and Egypt this week but he postponed that trip to remain in Washington while Congress passed legislation to overhaul US tax law.

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