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Afghanistan Wants more US Help in Fight Against Taliban, Islamic State (ISIS) group

Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani welcomed a recent call by U.S. Gen. John Nicholson for a few thousand more troops from the US or other coalition partners to help break the stalemate in the war-torn country

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Families watch rising of "Jahenda" flag, an Islamic flag, during celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian new year, at the Kart-e-Sakhi shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for "new year," is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in countries including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. (AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini), VOA
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Washington, March 22, 2017: Afghanistan wants the United States to send more forces to help meet shortfalls in the battle against the Taliban and the Islamic State group, the nation’s top diplomat said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani welcomed a recent call by U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, for a few thousand more troops from the U.S. or other coalition partners to help break the stalemate in the war-torn country.

The Trump administration has not yet said if it will send more forces in response to Nicholson’s comments.

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About 8,400 U.S. troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, performing counterterrorism operations against insurgents and training the Afghan army. The war is in its 16th year.

Citing a deadly attack this month on a military hospital in Kabul, Rabbani said Afghanistan needs U.S. help in addressing “military shortfalls,” through increased training, ground and air capabilities, and reconnaissance and intelligence support. The attack was launched by IS with the Taliban.

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‘Confident’ in new administration

“We stand confident that the new U.S. administration under President Trump will remain strategically engaged and continue its support,” Rabbani said at the Atlantic Council think tank ahead of a gathering in Washington of the U.S.-led coalition against IS. He described Nicholson’s call as “an appropriate decision considering the prevailing security challenges still facing us.”

In a sign of how major powers are vying for influence in the region, Rabbani said Russia is planning a 12-nation conference on Afghanistan. The former Soviet Union engaged in a disastrous decade-long occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Rabbani said the U.S. had been invited but didn’t know if it would attend. The State Department said it hasn’t yet decided on its participation.

Rabbani said the discussions would follow up on six-nation talks held in mid-February involving China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iran. He said he did not think the Taliban would be invited.

In congressional testimony last month, Nicholson said Russia has been publicly legitimizing the Taliban and seeking to undermine the United States and NATO in Afghanistan.

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Rabbani said Russia and Iran have both told Kabul they have been in contact with the Taliban to encourage a return to the negotiating table. They deny providing the Taliban material support.

Rabbani said terrorism and extremism must be combated through cooperation among governments. He said the Taliban wouldn’t seek peace unless Pakistan cracked down on “terrorist safe havens” on its soil — a long-running source of bitterness between the neighbouring countries. (VOA)

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

Also Read: Governments Across The World Request Apple for 30,000 Device Information

Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)