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Afghanistan's Neighbors Pledge Cooperation On Security

The chief of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel
The chief of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel

NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan says regional military chiefs vowed to cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the narcotics trade during a two-day conference in Kabul.

Mission spokesman Captain Tom Gresback told RFE/RL on February 14 that the defense officials from Central and South Asian countries “reiterated their commitment to fighting terrorism throughout the region and discuss ways of working together to counter drug trafficking and other cross-border security concerns."

Participating nations in the February 12-13 gathering included Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the United States.

"We have the shared interest of preventing Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorism," said the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, according to a statement by the Resolute Support mission.

"There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group," Nicholson also said. "We continue to strike them wherever we find them. We continue to hunt them across the country."

Those attending the meeting also included the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Joseph Votel, and Pakistan's chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistan has been under increasing pressure from both Afghan and U.S. officials to take action against militants operating in the country. Islamabad denies harboring militant groups that carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

“I believe that at last Pakistan will bow to international pressure and will join the fight against terrorism,” Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri said on February 13.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the U.S. ambassador to NATO called on Pakistan to “work with the United States, with NATO to stop the treacherous activities of the Taliban.”

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Afghanistan is also the world's top producer of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced.

In a report released in November, the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said opium production in the country increased by 87 percent to a "record level" of 9,000 tons last year, compared with 2016 levels.