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Afghanistan Needs Regional Integration

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C), Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (8L), Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (2R) and Indian Union Minister VK Singh (R) listen to a speaker at the 6th Heart of Asia (HoA) Ministerial Conference in Amritsar, India.

"While the support of the international community remains essential, what is just as important ... is the support and partnership of Afghanistan’s neighbors."

Afghanistan continues to enjoy extraordinary support from the international community. This support was reinforced at the Warsaw Summit in July, where the United States and its NATO allies and partners agreed to sustain the Resolute Support Mission beyond 2016 and to provide financial support for Afghan security forces through 2020.

In October, at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the United States and over seventy other countries pledged to continue development assistance through 2020.

Earlier this month, representatives of Afghanistan and 13 other countries in the region met in Amritsar for the sixth annual Heart of Asia Conference. They were joined by over 20 other supporting organizations and countries, including the United States.

Speaking for the United States, Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller explained that "[w]hile the support of the international community remains essential, what is just as important ... is the support and partnership of Afghanistan’s neighbors. Establishing enduring security and self-sustaining economic development within Afghanistan requires a common regional effort. By the same token, security and economic progress in Afghanistan will benefit the entire region."

"The threat of terrorism remains a serious concern in Afghanistan and throughout the region," said Ms. Miller. "In this second year since Afghan forces assumed full security responsibility for their country, they have performed admirably in combating a determined enemy," she said. In the coming year, it will be critical for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to continue improving their capabilities.

It is also essential that the Afghan government continue to strive to create the conditions for a durable peace. An Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process is the surest way to end the conflict and bring stability to Afghanistan. The United States strongly supports such a process.

"We commend the Afghan government for concluding a peace agreement with Hizb-e Islami, and believe that successful implementation of the agreement can send an important message to other militant groups," said Ms. Miller.

Ms. Miller also welcomed the Afghan government's recent appointment of new elections commissioners and the successful prosecutions of officials for corruption.

The security, political stability, and economic prosperity of Afghanistan and the region are inextricably intertwined. That's why the U.S. remains resolute in its support of stronger regional cooperation and economic integration as the way forward for Afghanistan and the region.