As US and coalition forces have started troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance will continue its civilian diplomatic presence in Kabul to provide advice and capacity-building support to Afghan security institutions.
He made the remarks following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defense Ministers’ session on Tuesday.
Stoltenberg said NATO will continue to provide funding to the Afghan security forces.
“We are also looking at how we can provide military education and training outside Afghanistan, focused on Special Operations Forces,” he said. “And we are working on how to fund the provision of services enabling Allies and the international community to stay in Kabul, including support for the airport.”
Stoltenberg said that NATO defense ministers agreed that this continued support is the best way “in which we can all contribute to peace efforts in Afghanistan.”
In response to a question on Australia’s announcement of the closure of its embassy in Kabul, he said, “NATO is ending its military mission, the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, but we will continue to provide support and we will do that in different ways.”
“NATO Allies are working together to make sure that we can provide support to important infrastructure, to support the international community at large,” he mentioned.
Stoltenberg said that they are aware that “the situation in Afghanistan is challenging, fragile and difficult, but added that “the way forward in Afghanistan is easy, and there are serious risks.”
He reiterated that NATO allies during their two decades of presence in Afghanistan have
helped “to build a professional, strong Afghan army and security force, which has proven very capable.”
Stoltenberg reiterated that “the only way to have a lasting, peaceful solution in Afghanistan is to have an Afghan-owned an Afghan-led peace process, and that the Afghans are in full charge of their own future.”
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that in addressing Afghanistan and Iraq, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed the retrograde in Afghanistan, pledging to support Afghanistan and work hand in hand with NATO as the Resolute Support Mission transitions to a civilian-led engagement.
He also affirmed that the United States remains firmly committed to defeating Daesh and supporting the Government of Iraq.