KABUL: US Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan to meet its leaders and underscore America’s commitment to the country four months after President Donald Trump agreed to an open-ended war against insurgents there.
In an apparent warning to Pakistan during his surprise visit to Afghanistan, Pence said; “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days of sheltering terrorists have gone. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists.”
He said US President Trump has “put Pakistan on notice for providing safe haven” to the terrorists on its soil.
“For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over.. Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” Pence told American troops at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.
Pence arrived on a military plane at Bagram Airfield under the cover of darkness on Thursday night after leaving Washington on Wednesday night.
He then flew by helicopter to Kabul, where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the presidential palace.
Pence told the leaders he hoped his presence there was tangible evidence that the US was “here to see this through”.
In a reversal of his campaign call for a swift withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, Trump in August pledged a stepped-up military campaign against Taliban insurgents and signalled the US would send more troops to fight in what is the longest war in its history.
At the end of August, there were some 11,000 US troops in Afghanistan and more have since arrived.