News - Afghanistan
Nato's political envoy in Afghanistan, Simon Gass, has firmly dismissed claims that US-Afghan relations and the planned long-term strategic agreement were under strain following the killing of Afghan civilians by a US soldier.
"I don't think it will have an effect on the partnership because both parties are still very much committed to the strategic partnership," Gass, Nato's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, said on Wednesday during an interview with TOLOnews.
"It's a very important development because that partnership will be the basis for Afghanistan's security after the [Nato-led] Isaf forces have left. It will serve the interests o f the Afghan people."
Gass acknowledged that the actions of the US soldier, who killed 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar province on Sunday, had horrified the Afghan population, but pointed out that it was no less horrifying to the foreign forces.
"There isn't a single soldier from any country in the [Nato] alliance who came to Afghanistan thinking it is at all acceptable that women and children be killed in this way. It is the most appalling event," he said.
"I do think it is important that we recognise this to be something that was carried out by one person. It was an individual act."
Gass firmly quashed the suggestion recent events had led to a lack of trust between Afghans and foreign soldiers, emphasising he sees a "tremendous amount of trust" between the groups and that "hundreds of thousands" of Afghan and Nato soldiers continue to work alongside each other every day.
"It is true that we've had two or three incidents in recent weeks that could give the impression there could be a lack of trust, but I don't believe that has happened," he said.
He confirmed that the US soldier, now in US custody, would not be tried under Afghan law but under US law because "that is the agreement under which US troops work in Afghanistan and indeed in other countries around the world".
Gass said there would never be a day when the US or Nato would declare "victory" in Afghanistan.
"No one should talk about victory in these circumstances," he said.
"The way in which the insurgency will end is likely to be through a political process and, by definition, political processes don't result in victory for one side and defeat for the other because then there is never a deal."
He said Nato's mission was to place the means of governance and security in the hands of the Afghan government.
"If we can achieve that and we can achieve stability in the security sphere which then allows the economic development of Afghanistan, then I think we will be satisfied our mission is complete."