Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Committee on Foreign Relations that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has committed to preventing terrorist groups, including the Al-Qaeda and ISIS-Khorasan, from using its territory as a base for attacks on other countries, and the US will continue to maintain robust counter-terrorism capabilities in the region to neutralise any threats.
In his opening remarks to the House, where he was grilled, Blinken said the “Taliban has committed to preventing terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations that could threaten the United States or our allies, including al-Qaida and ISIS-K. We’ll hold them accountable for that.
“That does not mean we will rely on them. We will remain vigilant in monitoring threats, we’ll maintain robust counterterrorism capabilities in the region to neutralize those threats if necessary – and we do that in places around the world where we do not have military forces on the ground,” he said.
He said that the US will continue with its intensive diplomacy with the US’s allies and partners.
Blinken said the US initiated a statement joined by “more than half the world’s countries – over a hundred countries as well as a United Nations Security Council resolution setting out the international community’s expectations of a Taliban-led government”. He was referring to the UN Security Council resolution on Afghanistan adopted on August 30 under India’s presidency, which clearly states that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists or to plan or to finance terrorist acts.
Blinken said that the Taliban is expected “to ensure freedom of travel; to make good on its commitments on counterterrorism; to uphold the basic rights of the Afghan people, including women, girls, and minorities; to name a broadly representative permanent government; to forswear reprisals.”
“The legitimacy and support the Taliban seeks from the international community will depend on its conduct,” he added.
He said the US has organized contact groups of key countries “to ensure the international community continues to speak with one voice on Afghanistan and to leverage our combined influence”.
Blinken said that last week he a ministerial meeting of 22 countries, NATO, the EU, the United Nations, to continue to align the global efforts.
He stressed that the US will continue to support humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.
“Consistent with sanctions, this aid will not flow through the government, but rather through independent organizations like NGOs and UN agencies.”
“Just today, we announced that the United States is providing nearly $64 million in new humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan to meet critical health and nutrition needs; address the protection concerns of women, children, and minorities; to help more children – including girls – go back to school. This additional funding means the United States has provided nearly $330 million in assistance to the Afghan people this fiscal year,” he added.