NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 66th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Monday said that the alliance cannot let Daesh rebuild in Afghanistan “the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq.”
Stoltenberg said US has announced that it will reduce its presence in Afghanistan, but NATO mission will remain and that it will continue to provide support to Afghan security forces.
“One of the reasons we need a strong military is for our fight against international terrorism. As we have been doing in Afghanistan for almost 20 years,” he said.
Stoltenberg said NATO’s future presence in Afghanistan will be addressed in their next Defense Ministers meeting in February.
“We will be faced with a difficult choice,” Stoltenberg said. “Either stay – and pay the price of a continued military engagement. Or leave – and risk that the gains we have made are lost. And that the peace process falters.”
The NATO chief said the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan is conditions-based and “we will only leave if the Taliban has met their side of the agreement.”
Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan has been criticized by some US officials and former military generals who have called it an attempt in favor of the Taliban.
Retired US general and former advisor of the US president, HR McMaster, criticized recent announcement on reduction of American troops presence in Afghanistan and said the Trump administration is handing the Taliban a victory by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, calling the plan “abhorrent.”