The Afghan government on Friday welcomed NATO’s decision to not undertake hasty withdrawal from the country, saying that Afghanistan and NATO are jointly fighting a common threat.
“The Afghan government welcomes NATO’s decision to continue the train, assist and advise mission of the defense and security forces of Afghanistan and to not haste in the withdrawal of its forces (from Afghanistan),” presidential spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said in a tweet.
He said, “the Afghan government and NATO are fighting against a common enemy, which are all terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, who have close ties with the Taliban.”
He said that the Taliban should have cut these ties after the Doha deal, but on contrary, they strengthened these relations.
Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, who leads the government’s peace efforts, welcomed NATO’s support to the efforts for ending the conflict through a political settlement.
“The High Council for National Reconciliation welcomes the recent decision by NATO defense minister to resolutely support the peace process, intra-Afghan talks, emphasize finding a political settlement to the conflict in the country, ending violence, return to the peace negotiation table and support to the brave members of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces,” Abdullah’s office said in a statement on Friday.
Afghan analysts said that the withdrawal of the international forces will not be completed by May.
“The withdrawal of forces will not complete in May. It would be conditions-based, it would be related to how the Taliban will fulfill their commitments,” said Nasrullah Stanekzai, university lecturer a political analyst.
“The NATO’s resolute Support mission will continue its cooperation until 2024; therefore, we need the alliance’s financial support,” the deputy defense minister Shah Mahmood Miakhel said.
No Decision on Future Posture
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at end of the two NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday said that the military alliance will only leave Afghanistan when security conditions on the ground allow it.
Stoltenberg said that at this stage, the alliance has not made a final decision about a troop presence in Afghanistan.
“At this stage, we have made no final decision on the future of our presence, but, as the May 1 deadline is approaching, NATO Allies will continue to closely consult and coordinate in the coming weeks,” said Stoltenberg at a press conference in Brussels.
NATO chief also spoke on phone with President Ghani on Friday.
“NATO remains committed to our mission and supporting the Afghan security forces in their fight against terrorism. All sides must engage in re-energizing the peace process to find a lasting solution,” Stoltenberg said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin on Thursday said the United States would not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Addressing the second and final day of the NATO Defense Ministerial, Austin thanked Allies for their continued commitment to the Resolute Support Mission and reiterated that the US remains committed to a diplomatic effort to end the war.
He told the Allies that the US is conducting a thorough review of the conditions of the US-Taliban Agreement to determine whether all parties have adhered to those conditions.
Austin made clear that he is committed to consulting with Allies and partners throughout this process.
He reassured Allies that the US would not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.