No permanent US bases in Afghanistan, says Crocker | Pakistan Today

No permanent US bases in Afghanistan, says Crocker

The US has no interest in creating permanent military bases in Afghanistan and does not want to use the country as a platform to influence neighbouring countries, the new US ambassador to Afghanistan said on Monday.
Washington is negotiating with the Afghan government on a deal to define the long-term American role in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, when NATO-led combat troops are due to leave after handing security control to the Afghan army and police. It remains unclear whether the “strategic partnership” agreement would explicitly refer to possible US military bases in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the possibility of long-term US bases can only be addressed once peace has been achieved. “We have no interest in permanent bases in Afghanistan,” said US Ambassador Ryan Crocker shortly after he was sworn in at the US embassy in Kabul, in an apparent nod to Afghanistan’s powerful and wary neighbours.
Stay: “We will stay as long as we need to and not one day more.” Afghanistan has complex relationships with Pakistan and Iran, who see the country as vital to their own security and fear US efforts to undermine their influence there, while both China and Russia are wary of US ambitions in the region.
However, despite billions being poured into building up the Afghan security forces, the problems they face – from illiteracy to corruption – means both Afghans and foreigners expect some kind of continued military support beyond 2014, even if foreign troops are no longer on the front lines. The US may also be keen to keep bases for attacks on targets in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas believed to pose a terrorist threat, such as the base that was used to launch the raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden earlier this year, analysts say. Crocker said the US had no hidden agenda. “We have no interest in using Afghanistan as a platform to project influence into neighbouring countries,” he said. “Our sole interest is in Afghanistan’s security and sustainable stability and ensuring it will never again become a haven for international terrorism.”

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