“The inauguration of the government of national unity marked a new beginning for Afghanistan,” White House Counselor John Podesta said at the Heart of Asia foreign ministerial conference held recently in Beijing, China. “Today, the Afghan National Security Forces are in the lead for security throughout Afghanistan . . . NATO will transition to a new, non-combat train, advise, and assist mission for Afghan Forces.”
The new leadership of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has moved quickly to signal its intent to combat corruption, fight terrorism, unlock economic opportunity, strengthen the justice system, protect human rights - including for Afghan women and girls, and improve relations with Afghanistan's neighbors.
“This conference shows our collective solidarity with the Afghan people,” Mr. Podesta said. “The countries represented here – Afghanistan’s neighbors, regional partners, and friends from around the world . . . have a responsibility to . . . help the Afghan people seize this opportunity to solidify the gains of the past thirteen years.”
Promoting peace and reconciliation is the key to achieving lasting progress in Afghanistan.
“This is an ongoing process . . . [and] must continue to be . . . led by Afghans,” Mr. Podesta emphasized. “We must make clear that violence is in no one’s interest . . . and that what the Afghan people need . . . is the virtuous cycle of peace, prosperity, and stability.”
Afghanistan lies in the heart of Asia, which has half of the world’s population. A stable Afghanistan will help to drive economic development in Central Asia while also anchoring the region's stability.
“We welcome China’s engagement in Afghanistan, and look forward to finding ways to expand our work together to support Afghanistan’s peaceful development,” Mr. Podesta said. In conclusion he emphasized that the United States looks forward to working with the Heart of Asia countries to ensure that Afghanistan and the region “realize their shared aspiration for a stable, secure, peaceful, and prosperous future.”