New US strategic partnership office for Pakistan, Afghanistan

Islamabad, Jan 18: US President Barack Obama has ordered the establishment of a temporary office to be known as Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategic Partnership Office (APSPO).

The new office would help promote further security and stabilisation and transitioning to a normal US diplomatic presence in the two countries, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported Saturday.

The office has been set up within the US State Department and will coordinate the final withdrawal of the US State Department’s civilian field operations and staff from Afghanistan.

The creation of the office under President Obama’s executive order comes as the US and its NATO allies prepare for a major transition in Afghanistan with the conclusion of combat operations and withdrawal of most of their troops by the end of this year.

The APSPO shall be headed by a director appointed by the US secretary of state.

The temporary office shall be based in Washington, with wings in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The White House executive order states that the “purposes of the APSPO shall be to perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in facilitating a strategic partnership between the US government and the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, promoting further security and stabilisation and transitioning to a normalised diplomatic presence in both countries”.

The APSPO shall “support agencies in transitioning to a strategic partnership with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the economic, diplomatic, cultural, technology and security fields, particularly in the areas of programme management, rule of law and programme oversight,” it added.

IANS