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AFGHANISTAN: No change in Italian-Alliance strategy, reports Terzi

Italy’s “strategy [editor’s note: that of Italy and its allies in Afghanistan] goes forward and has not changed direction. Therefore, the timeframes are those that were described and announced”. This was Minister for Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi’s comment at the end of a meeting at the foreign ministry in Rome with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman. “The fundamental principle for both our countries and the other NATO allies remains that we work together and we go back in together”. According to Terzi, “the theme of redeployment and reduction of the military presence is a theme that falls precisely within the strategy adopted at Lisbon and is linked with the objective of transferring security responsibility to the Afghan national forces”. “A transfer”, he stressed, “that will begin in 2013 and be completed in 2014”.

The Special US Envoy conveyed the United States’ “admiration for Italy’s efforts in Afghanistan in these past 10 years”, and expressed “solidarity in the pursuit of the efforts we will continue to carry out together. I reiterated”, Grossman said, “my condolences for the loss of the Italian soldier and the wounding of others last week”. Grossman announced that the United States was ready to resume dialogue with the Taliban. When the Taliban “are ready we will be ready to resume dialogue” with them”.

According to Grossman, “the question in play is how to protect the investments made in human lives, money, time and effort from now on”. A given quantity of resources, he said, should continue to be invested in Afghan security forces and, “as Terzi said very well, in developing the country”. Moreover, it is necessary “to increase the private sector’s capacity for involvement in Afghanistan. And that is why with countries like Italy we are advancing aimed at linking the economies of Central Asia with those of Southern Asia through Afghanistan, with the goal of creating sustainable economic growth”, Grossman added, specifying that “this is not only a question of going around asking for public funds but also of asking the private sector also to consider the opportunities the region offers”.