WASHINGTON: The White House has expressed backing for Pakistan's role in the ongoing Afghan-led political effort for peace, emphasizing the importance of regional acceptance of the stability in Afghanistan and South Asia.
Ben Rhodes, a senior White House national security advisor, also said Washington is not seeking to control Afghanistan or determine its politics post-2014, when international forces leave the landlocked country 13 years after the 9/11-triggered war.
Speaking ahead of President Hamid Karzai's talks with President Barack Obama this week, Rhodes made it clear that the US mission would focus on twin objectives: training and equipping the Afghan forces and countering al-Qaeda-linked terror.
"So it's not our aim to control Afghanistan or to determine its politics after 2014. In fact, that is why we support an Afghan-led political process and we very much support a Pakistani role, because there has to be a regional buy into the future of stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Asia," Rhodes, who is Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, said in a conference call with journalists.
His remarks came in a response to a question about US discussions with President Karzai in light of the peace agreement Kabul is pursuing with Pakistanis, that, a reporter suggested, replaces the United States as the broker of direct, face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Stressing on the issue, Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for South Asia, Doug Lute, said Washington believes an Afghan-led political process, a political settlement of some sort is absolutely essential to bringing the war to a responsible close.
At the same time, Lute, a retired general, explained: "I don't agree, however, that an Afghan-led process means that somehow the US or Pakistan are going to play sort of dominant proxy roles".
"This legitimately has to be an Afghan-owned and led process, which is why we welcomed very much several months ago the Afghan production of the five-phase roadmap, which we think is very reasonable, obtainable, realistic approach to the peace process".
"Now, as Ben suggested, while we don't imagine that either the United States or Pakistan are going to control this peace process, we both have important supporting roles to play as do other neighbouring states and other international leaders to include international organizations. So this has got to be a bit of a team effort in terms of supporting the Afghan process, but the process itself has got to be owned by them," he added.