ANKARA - US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (AFPAK) Marc Grossman is scheduled to travel to countries involved in the Afghan peace process, including Turkey, the US State Department announced on Thursday. Grossman is set to depart from the US on Sunday to visit Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Afghanistan and Qatar until Jan. 27, the announcement noted, adding that Grossman was travelling to these countries "as part of a larger US strategy to support a peaceful, stable, increasingly prosperous and democratic Afghanistan."
Grossman's visit coincides with what US officials condemned as a move "incompatible with the standards expected of the US military," referring to a video that shows four American marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters.
The video landed a heavy blow to US efforts to stabilize Afghanistan as US forces gradually pull out from the country, sparking disappointment with Afghans and embarrassing the US forces struggling in the country to sustain peace.
The US, however, says the video would not damage talks between Afghan and US officials, and that the incident is an individual case that needs urgent investigation. On Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland repeated that the US "deplored" the incident, but noted that the country has "a lot of important work to do in Afghanistan and with Afghans," and that, therefore, the US had to keep up the efforts there.
Nuland also commented on the reason for Grossman's visit to Turkey, saying that on almost every trip the former ambassador to Turkey visited regional countries and "particularly tries to stop in countries that have been supportive of Afghanistan," supporting the country economically or in other means, such as training the Afghan national forces, where Turkey comes into play.
"All of those countries have been part of our broader international coalition of support for a peaceful, increasingly democratic Afghanistan," Nuland added.
Turkey contributes to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, dubbed the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but its forces do not engage in armed conflict but rather offer humanitarian support in Afghanistan as well as training Afghan forces inside Turkey to be ready to take command of the Afghan security unit.