NATO PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN CONDITIONS-BASED: STOLTENBERG
As the peace negotiations continue and amidst attempts to withdraw international troops from Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday said the talks in Doha are “fragile” and that the presence of the international forces in the country is conditions-based.
He made the remarks at the NATO Defense ministerial where he reiterated that a recent attack on the NATO forces in Kandahar indicates that the situation in Afghanistan remains challenging.
“As part of the peace process, NATO has adjusted its military presence in Afghanistan. And our presence is conditions-based. Any future adjustments must depend on progress in the peace talks and the conditions on the ground,” Stoltenberg said.
He added that Doha talks-between negotiating teams from the Afghan republic and the Taliban-provide an historic opportunity for peace in Afghanistan.
Stoltenberg said NATO’s fight against terrorism was top of the agenda at today’s Defense Ministers meeting, adding that “NATO supports the peace process in Afghanistan” and that “the Doha talks are fragile, but the best chance for peace.”
“The Taliban must reduce the unacceptable levels of violence to pave the way to a ceasefire,” Stoltenberg said. “They must break all ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations so that Afghanistan never again serves as a platform for terrorist attacks on our countries,” he said.
The NATO chief said the achievements of Afghans over the last two decades should be preserved.
“At the end of the day, peace in Afghanistan has to be created by the Afghans and stabilize their country,” said NATO chief.
This comes days after US President Donald Trump urged the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan by Christmas.
Violence Remains High in Afghanistan
At least 20 members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) were killed in a Taliban attack on their outpost in Khashrod district, Nimroz province, on Thursday evening, said Jalil Ahmad Watandost, the district governor of Khashrod.
On Thursday, the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that the group's fighters had expanded their attacks to 24 provinces over the past 24 hours, including Takhar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Kunduz, Baghlan, Laghman, Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Zabul, Herat, Farah, Badghis, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul and Badakhshan provinces.
On Wednesday, Takhar’s deputy police chief Raz Mohammad Doorandish and nearly 50 security force members were killed in clashes with the Taliban in the province on Tuesday night.