US confirms death of Afghan Taliban leader

WASHINGTON, May 23 (KUNA) — US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter on Monday confirmed the death of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour as a result of a US drone strike in Pakistan.
“Today marks an important milestone in our longstanding effort to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan,” he said in a statement two days after the reports emerged.
“With the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, we have removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces, to wage war against the Afghan people, and align itself with extremist groups like Al-Qaeda,” Carter said.
“Mansour rejected efforts by the Afghan government to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence that has taken the lives of countless innocent Afghan men, women and children,” he said.
The Taliban should seize the opportunity to end this conflict and join the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability, he added.
“The United States will continue to help strengthen Afghan security forces and support President (Ashraf) Ghani and the National Unity Government in their efforts to forge the peace and progress that Afghans deserve.
The US will also “work on shared objectives with Pakistan, where terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven,” he said.
President Barack Obama also confirmed the development in a separate statement issued earlier today during a visit to Vietnam. (end) sd.bs

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