Yesterday evening, President Donald Trump spoke to the American people and the world about our government’s new strategy and renewed commitment to success here in Afghanistan and in the broader South Asia region. The President was very clear about the United States’ continuing support for the Government of National Unity and you, the Afghan people, in your quest to achieve security, stability, prosperity, and peace for your country.
At the core of this commitment, we will continue to support Afghan forces in defending their country while we also maintain pressure on the Taliban to join a peace process with the Afghan government to end the war in Afghanistan. We will remove the incentives for hedging behavior by some that leads to support for the Taliban, and we will emphasize with all regional countries the importance of cooperation to reduce the threat of terrorism and nuclearized conflict. Our strategy is based on conditions on the ground, and we will stand by Afghanistan’s side as long as it takes to get the job done. So just understand, the United States is not going anywhere and we will continue to partner with the Government of National Unity and the Afghan people in our common fight against terrorists and those forces unwilling to reconcile.
Let us be clear: in order to achieve real progress, the Afghan government must redouble its reform efforts and deliver on vital promises such as holding Parliamentary elections next year and Presidential elections in 2019, rooting out corruption, and enacting the tough reforms necessary for meaningful private sector-led economic growth. To maintain stability in the face of insurgent threats, Afghanistan’s leaders must also increase outreach to all ethnic groups and seek greater diversity and inclusivity in the government.
Real challenges lay ahead, but I am confident Afghanistan can surmount them. As I have said previously on many occasions, we and our allies are firmly with you, and we are not going anywhere. And as President Trump said, “We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. Afghans will secure and build their own nation, and define their own future. We want them to succeed.”