WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has welcomed the declaration adopted by Afghanistan's neighbours, promising to respect the sovereignty of the country and work toward its security and stability.
"They have endorsed Afghan priorities, including Afghan-led reconciliation, transition to Afghan security leadership and regionally integrated economic growth (New Silk Road Initiative)," the State department spokesperson said.
At the conference in Istanbul on Wednesday, the US was represented by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns in the absence of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had to cancel her trip due to the death of her mother.
"We will continue to offer our support to Afghanistan and its region as they work to follow on from the commitments in the declaration to deepen regional cooperation, starting with technical meetings in Kabul in the coming months and a foreign ministerial in Kabul next June," Victoria Nuland said.
The United States looked forward to the Bonn Conference on December 5, at which it would urge the international community to build on the regional efforts by making long-term commitment to Afghanistan clearer and more specific, she said.
The move by Afghanistan's neighbours was termed very significant by a senior Obama administration official.
"Very importantly, they endorsed the principles that need to guide reconciliation, including renouncing violence, splitting with terrorists, respect for the Afghan constitution, human/women's rights, and they recognize the importance of a long-term international support to the Afghan national security forces," the official said in a conference call with reporters.
Referring to the meetings between leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Istanbul a day before the conference, the official said it was the most important thing that happened after a period of not talking to one another since the assassination of former Afghanistan president Badruddin Rabbani.
"The fact that Pakistan joined in this declaration, that others did as well -- I think they took the fact if the two leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan could spend the day talking yesterday, could decide that there had to be a vision forward, then it was the right thing to do to follow-up with the kind of declaration that was issued this afternoon," the official said.