NATO with no final decision on the future of its presence in Afghanistan

The Alliance increases eight times its contingent in Iraq

Photo: NATO Jens Stoltenberg.

During the last day of their meeting, held in Brussels and via videoconference on 17 and 18 February, NATO Defence Ministers did not take final decision on the future of pact’s presence in Afghanistan. According to the US-Taliban agreement of last year, all foreign troops, roughly 10,000, have to leave Afghanistan by 1 May 2021.

We are faced with many dilemmas and there are no easy options, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said noting that “as the May 1 deadline is approaching, allies will continue to closely consult and coordinate in the coming weeks”.

He also said the allies remain committed to the Resolute Support mission, “with training and funding for the brave Afghan security forces”. 

"NATO strongly supports the peace process, and as part of it, we have significantly reduced the number of our troops.

The peace process is the best chance to end years of suffering and violence and bring lasting peace. It is important for the Afghan people. For the security of the region. And for our own security.”

Stoltenberg also specified that “the talks are fragile, and progress is slow” and it is now imperative to re-energise the peace process. All sides must seize this historic opportunity for a peaceful settlement without further delay.

“The Taliban must negotiate in good faith, reduce the high level of violence and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with international terrorist groups.”

NATO’s goal is to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists that would attack our homelands and protection of allies’ troops remains paramount, and we will take all necessary measures to keep them safe, NATO Secretary General stressed. 

Defence ministers decided to expand NATO’s training mission in Iraq and to support the Iraqi forces as they fight terrorism and ensure that ISIS does not return.

The size of the mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000 and training activities will include more Iraqi security institutions, and areas beyond Baghdad. The mission is at the request of the Iraqi government.

Our presence is conditions-based, and increases in troop numbers will be incremental and it is carried out with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Stoltenberg specified.

He said he spoke with Prime Minister Al—Kadhimi this week and assured him that everything will be done in full consultation with the Iraqi authorities, he pointed out adding that NATO is coordinating closely with the Global Coalition.

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