December 9, 2016
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that “America is, and will remain, committed to a sovereign and secure Afghanistan.”
Carter made the comments Friday in Kabul at a joint news conference with President Ashraf Ghani, amid questions on how U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will handle the 15-year war.
The president-elect has given little indication of his foreign policy plans, and in particular, the war in Afghanistan was not a frequent point of discussion during his campaign.
Trump and Ghani spoke over the phone last week and discussed “terrorism threats facing both countries,” according to a statement released by the transition team.
Thank You to troops
Carter arrived in Afghanistan Friday for a holiday season visit to thank U.S. troops for their service to the nation. He was scheduled to receive an update on NATO and U.S. efforts to support Afghan security forces and meet with other senior Afghan officials.
In addition to several engagements with U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan, in meetings with Gen. John Nicholson, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and other senior officers, Carter was to hear their assessment on the security situation and international efforts to help the government of Afghanistan improve security in the country.
Carter also was receiving an update on recent, successful U.S. counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida and Islamic State in the country.
In his meetings with senior Afghan officials, Carter was expected to discuss the growing capabilities and resilience demonstrated by Afghan security forces in recent months. He was to discuss ongoing efforts to continue building Afghan combat capacity, including aviation.
Carter’s last visit to Afghanistan representing the Pentagon is part of a round-the-world trip to thank deployed U.S. troops for their service, meet with important regional partners and advance U.S. priorities, including the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and the lasting defeat of Islamic State.
The trip has already included visits to U.S. ally Japan and to major defense partner India. Carter is also scheduled to visit Bahrain, Israel, Italy and Britain.