WASHINGTON: The United States has called for reducing tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan and has asked leaders of both the countries to work together to combat violent extremism.

While confirming that US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after this weekend’s terrorist attacks in Kabul, a State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: “We are in constant contact with the Pakistani government and express our concerns on a variety of things, including counter-terrorism.”

Asked if he agreed with Afghanistan’s claim that the terrorists who carried out these attacks came from across the border, Mr Toner said: “I don’t have any other information to share about that, but obviously, we condemn those attacks.”

He said the United States was providing security assistance to Afghanistan but he was not aware of “any specific” assistance in investigating weekend’s terrorist attacks.

Asked if the United States had increased security around its missions in Afghanistan after the attacks, Mr Toner said: “It’s a very sensitive security environment. So we take precautions as needed.”

In another briefing, State Department spokesperson John Kirby urged Afghanistan and Pakistan to reduce tensions.

“It is in the urgent interest of both countries to eliminate safe havens and to reduce the operational capacity of the Taliban on both sides of the border,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2015

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