Pak-Taliban deal must be enforced, says new NATO commander in Afghanistan

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New York, May 27 : Newly appointed chief of NATO's command in Afghanistan and Maj Gen in US Army, Jeffrey J Schloesser has said that Pakistan was a sovereign country and it was in NATO's interest that peace agreements between the Pakistani government and militants were enforced.

In an interview with the Newsweek, Schloesser said that he favoured talks with legitimate tribal leaders in Afghanistan as well.

"We concentrate on working with tribal leaders who are legitimate in the eyes of the people...we believe that's culturally accurate, because the tribal leaders and the mullahs have positions of authority that go back hundreds of years," the Daily Times quoted him as saying.

The NATO commander avoided a question that whether there was any official policy to discourage negotiations with Taliban militants, by saying "that's not in my realm to answer." He said: "The Afghan government has a peace and reconciliation program. But we do make recommendations [to the government] about people we believe are ready to do that [lay down their arms and join the government's side] if we do run into them one way or the other."

To another question if the Taliban was a weakened force now, he said that the Taliban had the capability of bringing in new leaders. "I would acknowledge that they have lost a large number of leaders. I do believe they have a capacity to replace the leadership that is either captured or killed with new leaders who are fairly agile in re-establishing the network and what their predecessor was doing," he said.

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