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Kabul Hosts Regional Military Chiefs


FILE: Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (R) speaks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in December 2017.
FILE: Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (R) speaks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in December 2017.

The Afghan capital is hosting the regional military chiefs for a conference to discuss cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri told RFE/RL that the chiefs of army staff of about 11-12 countries were attending the meeting, which he said was called by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

Those attending were said to include CENTCOM chief General Joseph Votel, General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Pakistan's chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistan has been under increasing pressure from both Afghan and U.S. officials to take action against militants operating in the country. Islamabad denies harboring militant groups that carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

“I believe that at last Pakistan will bow to international pressure and will join the fight against terrorism,” Waziri said.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the U.S. ambassador to NATO called on Pakistan to “work with the United States, with NATO to stop the treacherous activities of the Taliban.”

"Pakistan has a chance to be a major force for good if they will,” Kay Bailey Hutchison told journalists ahead of the NATO defense ministers meeting on February 14-15.

“The next step for them is to work with us, to come together to see how can get the Taliban to lay down their terrorist activities and become a part of a unified Afghanistan that would be a strong neighbor of Pakistan," Hutchison added.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Talks at the Kabul conference were also expected to touch upon narcotics trade in the region.

Afghanistan is the world's top producer of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced.

In a report released in November, the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said opium production in the country increased by 87 percent to a "record level" of 9,000 tons last year, compared with 2016 levels.

With reporting by AP, Pajhwok, and Khaama Press

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