U. S. National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, joined by a senior U.S. interagency delegation, met with Afghan President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah, National Security Advisor Atmar, and other senior leaders in the National Unity Government on April 16th to discuss shared priorities and our strong bilateral cooperation in Afghanistan during a two-day visit. The leaders discussed regional dynamics and joint efforts to counter terrorist groups, including al-Qaida and ISIS, among other topics. They also discussed a range of bilateral issues, including joint efforts to advance a peace process, economic development, promotion of private investment, and regional trade.
General McMaster commended the National Unity Government’s political, economic, and security reform efforts, and encouraged accelerating those efforts to strengthen governance in Afghanistan.
In an interview with Tolo News General McMaster noted that “the Afghanistan of 2017 is much different and much improved from the Afghanistan of 2001. And so what’s necessary at this point is to consolidate gains and to deal with what is a big security problem. And also, though, to help the Afghan government undertake reforms necessary to strengthen the Afghan state and bring lasting security and stability for the Afghan people.”
Concerning the April 14th use by U.S. armed forces of their largest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43, against an ISIS-K, tunnel complex in the Achin district in Nangahar province, the National Security Advisor said the message is not just the bomb itself. “It’s what our soldiers are doing ever day alongside courageous Afghan soldiers, fighting Daesh, ensuring that these people—who victimize women, who shoot people in hospital beds—we cannot tolerate the existence of that kind of an organization,” he emphasized. “They are a threat to all civilized people, so we have come together in a long struggle against these groups who must be defeated.”
As for the Taliban, they must be defeated as well, he noted, and they can be defeated in a number of ways. “For those who are reconcilable, who are now willing to join their Afghan brothers, to strengthen the Afghan state and end the violence, to be part of the political process, I think your president and Chief Executive Abdullah would welcome them back in,” said General McMaster. “So it’s their choice now.”