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West, Russia 'Share Interest' In Afghan Stability, Top U.S. Commander Says

Commander Says U.S. Has Shared Interest With Russia In Afghanistan
Commander Says U.S. Has Shared Interest With Russia In Afghanistan

The West and Russia have a shared interest in Afghanistan's stability, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has told RFE/RL.

"We both share an interest in countering the terrorists who threaten our country and threaten Russia and threaten Central Asia," General John Nicholson said on April 27 on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

"We have a shared interest in defeating Daesh [an alternative name for the extremist Islamic State group], we have a shared interest in counternarcotics, we have a shared interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan," Nicholson said.

"And what we hope to do is to work with Russia and all of the nations in the region to achieve this outcome in Afghanistan."

Asked about his statement to the BBC last month that Russia was was supporting and even supplying the Taliban with weapons, Nicholson said such support was "small-scale" and difficult to assess with complete accuracy.

"We're seeing small-scale support being rendered to the Taliban," Nicholson said.

"I've had weapons delivered to my headquarters from governors in the north [of Afghanistan] who said that this was provided by the Russians to the Taliban. Of course, this is difficult to establish with great certainty."

Despite the suspension of U.S. assistance to Pakistan because of its failure to crack down on terrorist networks operating there, the United States hopes it can "work with Pakistan to bring about peace in Afghanistan," and remains in "frequent communication" with Islamabad, Nicholson said.

"It was very encouraging to see Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visit Kabul, and it was the second meeting between [Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani and Prime Minister Abbasi, so we are hopeful that we'll see cooperation with Pakistan to bring about peace."

Nicholson, who is also the head of NATO's Resolute Support Mission, whose aim is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government forces, said the alliance's long-term commitment to Afghan security "is steady and solid."

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