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'WE BACKED US FORCES' PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN': PUTIN

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said on Sunday that the continued presence of US troops in Afghanistan is beneficial for overall security.

"Initially, we backed US forces’ presence in Afghanistan and earlier voted in favor of a respective UN Security Council resolution. I still believe that US presence in Afghanistan does not run counter to our external interests," Putin said in an interview with "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on Rossiya-1 TV channel, Russia’s Tass quoted Putin as saying.

"On the contrary, when it was announced that the Americans are preparing to withdraw their military contingent - yes, our official position is that maybe this creates additional conditions for a kind of Afghan reconciliation - but I personally think that this creates many risks," Putin said.

"First, we will have to spend more to maintain stability and second, no matter what, still US presence in Afghanistan contributes to stability in the country and their exit creates risks," the Russian leader explained. "We don’t have to fight against the Americans’ presence there."

NATO Presence in Afghanistan Conditions-Based

As the peace negotiations continue and amid 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 the 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 topped the agenda at this week'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 recently urged the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan by Christmas.