NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday in an interview with the German press agency DPA mentioned Afghanistan's "fragile peace process," and said there is no "guarantee of success.”
But the ongoing talks in Doha between the Afghan government and the Taliban are the "only path to peace," and NATO strongly supports those efforts, Stoltenberg said.
On the foreign troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan and the NATO mission in the country, he said: “We will have another meeting in February with the new Biden administration and then make our decisions.”
“Whatever we decide, there is a risk. If we decide to leave, the risk is that we will lose the gains we have made in fighting international terrorism to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven. If we stay, of course there is the risk that we will see increased fighting, violence, and that we will remain engaged in a long-term military conflict in Afghanistan,” he said.
A week ago, US acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller visited US forces and the American military leadership in Kabul and said that special operations forces were the first deployed in the war in Afghanistan and would likely be the last troops to leave the country.
The report said that Miller traveled to Camp Morehead, located south of Kabul, where US special operations forces train Afghan commandos, to hear from troops about the war from the ground perspective.
“I went there on purpose because I’m going to get the real deal from these guys. And their smart-ass comments and their insights led me to the conclusion we’re in a good place,” Miller said, without going into detail.
During his visit, he also met with Army Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and coalition forces there, and President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the US commitment to that country’s security and the ongoing withdrawal of roughly 2,500 US troops by Jan. 15.
The active defense secretary said he had talked to Gen. Miller “extensively” about the work that special operations troops will conduct in the next couple of months as all US forces are expected to leave the country by May 2021.
They will likely be the last US forces in the country to continue counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida and support the Afghan security forces, he said.
The US and Taliban signed an agreement in Doha, Qatar, in February this year that would see the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban meet certain conditions, including a reduction in violence leading to a ceasefire and peace talks with the Afghan government.
Next round of Afghan peace talks
Recently, President Ghani has agreed to hold the next round of the peace negotiations in Doha, said Waheed Omer, head of the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs of the President, adding that the agreement was made based on the suggestion of the head of the negotiating team and the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
But Omer said that the government still maintains its stance that future rounds of talks--besides the next one--be held within Afghanistan.
The first round of the peace talks was held in Doha. The negotiations of the Afghan Republic and the Taliban were in Doha for 94 days during which they agreed on the procedural rules for the talks.
The negotiation team paused their talks for 23 days and agreed to resume the talks on Jan. 5.
Two days ago, the leadership committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation in a two-day session has decided to form a technical group for consultations with the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan during the negotiations that are expected to resume on Jan. 5.