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Mike Pence warns Pakistan against harbouring terrorists

Published: 22 December, 2017 20:05 IST | IANS | Kabul

"Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the US, and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists," Pence said

Making a surprise visit to Afghanistan, US Vice President Mike Pence has alleged that Pakistan had provided a safe haven to the Taliban and other groups for too long.Pence landed here at 7.16 p.m. on Thursday in an ordinary, gray C-17 military transport plane intended to conceal his arrival. He then boarded a heavily armed helicopter convoy to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul.

Mike Pence warns PakistanMike Pence 

He also met the country's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Tolo News reported.Pence repeated US President Donald Trump's warning to Pakistan that it must stop offering cross-border safe havens to Taliban factions and militant groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.

"Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the US, and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists," Pence said. "President Trump has put Pakistan on notice." Pence during his meeting with Ghani, promised to provide more support to Afghanistan and referred to the areas of economic development and efforts to achieve peace and stability in the country.

"Vice-President Pence expressed his gratitude for the warm reception, and reaffirmed that the US will continue and further enhance its support to the government and people of Afghanistan," the Afghan Presidential Palace said. Ghani applauded the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia, according to which the US in September added 3,000 personnel to the contingent of 8,400 troops already stationed there.

Both Washington and Kabul agreed on "the need for timely parliamentary and presidential elections," scheduled for 2018 and 2019, respectively. Abdullah Abdullah praised the role of the US forces in Afghanistan and said that Kabul and the people of Afghanistan support the announcement of the new Afghan strategy.

Speaking on the security situation, Abdullah said, "Now the Afghan Armed Forces are responsible for the independent defence of the country, they have faced many challenges but thwarted the Taliban's plans, Al Qaeda and Islamic State in Afghanistan"."The problem of terrorist havens is still a serious problem and we hope that Pakistan will work to dismantle these sanctuaries," he said.

Pence also visited the military base in Bagram to rally several hundred US troops, thanking them for their service and taking the chance to tout the direction of the new US strategy. He stressed Washington was close to achieving victory in Afghanistan. "I believe victory is closer than ever before," Pence told the troops. The Vice President told them that they have got the Taliban on the run.His visit comes months after Trump unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. Pence's tour lasted seven and a half hours, according to US journalists who covered his surprise visit.

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