NATO Secretary General Jens Stolteberg, at a press conference on Thursday following the meeting of foreign ministers, said that NATO member nations remain committed to Afghanistan and that the alliance is in Afghanistan to create conditions for peace.
“NATO Allies remain committed to Afghanistan and we have stated clearly that we will continue to provide support. We will continue our train, assist and advise mission and we will continue with the funding for the Afghan forces,” said Stoltenberg.
“At the same time, we have stated clearly that the aim for NATO is not to stay in Afghanistan forever. The aim for NATO is to create the conditions for lasting peace, for stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
Stoltenberg said that NATO strongly supports the peace efforts in Afghanistan.
“We welcome the agreement between the Taliban and the United States. I was in Kabul when the agreement was signed in Doha. And we also had the declaration from Kabul and all NATO Allies support these efforts strongly,” he said.
On the US-Taliban peace agreement he said: “And one of the main tasks, one of the most important achievements with the deal between the United States and the Taliban, was that they actually agreed to initiate intra-Afghan negotiations. This is something that the Taliban has rejected for a long time and the Taliban also agreed to denounce, to break all ties with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.”
“We have to make sure that this agreement is implemented,” the NATO chief urged.
“That’s the reason also why we have stated clearly that any our reduction in presence in Afghanistan will be conditions based,” he replied in answer to a question about the troops drawdown from Afghanistan.
The troop will be reduced "to 12,000 which is what we foresee by the summer as part of the peace efforts," Stoltenberg said.
He said that NATO believes the only way to achieve peace in Afghanistan is to have an Afghan-owned process.
“The Afghans have to make peace in Afghanistan and that’s the reason why we support these efforts,” he said.
He called on all Afghan political figures to seize this moment and to overcome any differences and to stand united in negotiating with the Taliban to try to find a lasting peace.
Stoltenberg also said:
"We welcome efforts to set up an inclusive team for the inter-Afghan negotiations.
We call on the Taliban and all political actors to play their part.
This includes reducing violence.
This is the time for Afghans to show national unity in the national interest.
To achieve peace in Afghanistan, but also to fight COVID-19."