Interview With Ariana TV

Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James B. Warlick
Kabul, Afghanistan
December 15, 2012

Ariana TV: Thanks for giving us the opportunity to have an exclusive interview.

First off, could you talk about the security resolution between Afghanistan and United States?

Ambassador Warlick: First of all let me thank you for welcoming me to Afghanistan and the opportunity for me to talk with you and the people of Afghanistan. It’s a real privilege for me to be here. On my previous visits I was able to see Herat and I went to Mazar-e-Sharif, so I’m beginning to get to know the country and I look forward to future visits. You have a country with a great history and tradition and great pride, and that’s why security and stability in Afghanistan will be important. It will be important for all the people of Afghanistan, for our families, for our children.

The United States of America has invested a lot here. We’ve invested with our lives, with our financial resources. It’s something that will be important for us for the future.

I’m here leading a delegation to talk about that future, to talk about the conclusion of a Bilateral Security Agreement that can provide for an enduring partnership, that can provide for U.S. forces to be present here in Afghanistan after 2014, to work with your military, to provide support, and to provide reassurance to the people. So far those talks are very positive and they’re going extremely well.

Ariana TV: Could you tell us those misunderstandings and points of [dis]agreement that exist between these two countries in the past?

Ambassador Warlick: Friends sometimes do disagree about things. There are points where Afghanistan is going to defend its own interests, and we respect that. As we look to the future we have full respect for the sovereignty of this country and we want to ensure that we’re here as guests and that we respect the laws of this country.

One of the things that I’m doing is negotiating a framework so that we understand each other, so that our forces operate within a legal framework. I think that will minimize the kinds of disagreements that we have had. But make no mistake, we understand that the agreement that I’m negotiating for our forces after 2014, we’re here as invited guests of the government of Afghanistan and we want to join you and to support you and provide security and stability. But we know we’re guests and we’ll need to respect the laws and the traditions of this great country.

Ariana TV: What is your response of President Karzai’s concerns about the presence and other issues?

Ambassador Warlick: I know just as recently as today the President expressed concern about foreign forces being in villages around the country. But in fact our mission is changing here. Our President, President Obama, has said we will no longer continue combat operations. We will no longer continue these kinds of operations. We will be in a support role. That’s the role that we see for ourselves. Training and advising Afghans and standing behind [them]. In fact, your military and your police are increasingly capable. Between now and the end of 2014 we’re going to work as best that we can to ensure that your forces are able to meet the security challenges facing Afghanistan.

What we’re also saying to you is that we do want to have an enduring security partnership. If you want us here after 2014, we’re prepared to be here, to train and assist. Now all of the details for that need to be worked out. They need to be decisions from our side and your side about what that future holds. But I’m here to provide the discussion for the legal framework that will allow that presence to take place.

Ariana TV: Mr. Leon Panetta, Defense Security of the United States mentioned in press conference a few days ago that number of United States Army will stay in Afghanistan for training and supporting as you mentioned. And struggle against terrorism and the region. The question is what mechanism do you suggest for this struggle especially outside of Afghanistan? I mean in Pakistan.

Ambassador Warlick: We’re still waiting for some decisions from our President, and also our President will need to talk to President Karzai about exactly what our mission in Afghanistan should be after 2014. So the details on that are yet to be, are still to be decided. But the mission, the overall mission is clear. One is to work with your security forces, to support them, train and advise and assist. But also we have a continuing counterterrorism mission, to go after the remnants of al-Qaida. They continue to pose a threat to the people of Afghanistan, the people of the region. And as you know, al-Qaida poses a threat to the American homeland.

So we, with you, have a vested interest in that counter-terrorism mission.

Ariana TV: As [inaudible] in Afghanistan, outside Afghanistan, during the Cold War and the war, Western countries train and support extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now these extremists changed a huge problem, not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan and United States but also for the world. What is your [solution] for all this problem?

Ambassador Warlick: Your country has suffered through more than 30 years of a war, and it’s unfortunate, it’s your families and children and lives that have been so deeply affected by this.

One of the things that we see coming out of this is that terrorists, al-Qaida in particular, has looked for safe havens. We can’t let that happen again. It’s not in the interest of any country, not Afghanistan or for the United States that al-Qaida can once again be a threat using the territory of Afghanistan. That’s why one of our continuing missions will be addressing this threat from al-Qaida.

I wish for everyone that our families could grow up in peace and security without the threat of terrorism, but I’m realistic. We need to be vigilant. Wherever that terrorist threat may come from, we need to be able to address it. That includes within Afghanistan, that includes many other countries around the world, and including in the United States.

One of the things that we’ve learned is that terrorism doesn’t always strike somewhere else. It can strike in the United States. And as we see, it strikes in London, Madrid, Tokyo, around the world.

The way that we can deal with that is to be vigilant and we know that your security forces as well are being trained and will be vigilant to address that kind of threat too.

Ariana TV: Pakistan has played a [game with] United States and Afghanistan in the past 11 years. Now when your military mission ended, 2014, from Afghanistan, how can you and this mutual game of Pakistan eradicate extremism from around?

Ambassador Warlick: All of the countries in the region should conclude that peace, security and stability in Afghanistan is in their interest. It’s in the interest of the region. We hope that all of Afghanistan’s neighbors will look to ensure the kind of peace and stability that will lead to growth and prosperity, and I’m glad to say that in a number of ways that is beginning. We hope that it will continue.

One important -- These are important issues for us as well and we would like to see this kind of growing regional cooperation. In some ways we have a regional economic cooperation beginning through our work with the New Silk Road. There are a number of forums where there’s dialogue beginning on security issues. And what we hope is that this entire region will make an effort to commit itself to peace and security for the future.

Ariana TV: Coming to position of some of the countries such as Russia and others. On one side Russia has concern of the trouble of the NATO and United States forces from Afghanistan. The other side, it is not still fight with establish of United States bases in Afghanistan. According of the Strategic Partnership, the same idea of China and Iran as well, what is your opinion about those perspective or position of these countries?

Ambassador Warlick: One fact is that the agreement that we’re negotiating with you, the Bilateral Security Agreement, is going to be a public document. We want it to be transparent. And one of the reasons for that is we want all countries to look at it and see that it is not a threat. We’ve made clear that the United States does not want permanent bases and does not intend to have permanent bases in Afghanistan. We’ve made it clear that we will not conduct major combat operations here. Our mission is changing. Our mission is security and stability for the people of Afghanistan and that’s precisely what the countries that you mentioned should want. That’s the mission that we should really care about and be focused on. That’s the mission that we would like to undertake post 2014.

The document that we will have will be public. So I hope other countries will look at it and will see that there’s not some ulterior motive, that there’s not some secret plan. Our plan is security and stability. We hope that thought will also be reassuring to the Afghan people, that it’s not simply about military forces. It’s a bigger issue than that. It’s about an environment that will allow Afghanistan to grow and to prosper.

Now that’s not going to happen overnight. No one is under any illusion. And it’s not going to be a straight line. There are going to be setbacks along the way. But there needs to be that kind of sustained commitment, and we’d like to be there and have a partnership with you for that.

Ariana TV: Last question. So what do you think about President Karzai’s returning to Afghanistan, that some achievement from Washington after the negotiation that Mr. Obama or not?

Ambassador Warlick: I can’t predict what’s going to happen between our two Presidents. But President Karzai in a decade of leadership in this country has already demonstrated that he’s a true patriot. He is the leader of this country. He’ll be respected for the many things that he’s done for the people of this country.

I look forward to the meeting of our two Presidents. I think it’s important for us to continue that discussion. We don’t have to agree on everything. But the opportunity to speak frankly with each other as friends is important and we know that elections are coming up in your country. This will be important for you. These will be important for the future of your government. People will, I hope that this will be, the elections will provide the basis for a bright future for the Afghanistan people.

Ariana TV: Many many thanks Mr. James Warlick, to stay with us.

Ambassador Warlick: Thank you.