BRUSSELS, Oct 23 (KUNA) -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Friday confirmed reports that Greece and Turkey have agreed to cancel their military exercises which were to take place in the Eastern Mediterranean next week.
"I can confirm that the both Greece and Turkey have decided to cancel military exercises which were planned for next week on the national holidays. I welcome this decision. This is a very welcome step," he told a virtual press conference this afternoon after the conclusion of a 2-day video conference of NATO defence ministers.
"I once again commend Greece and Turkey for the flexibility and the constructive approach they have shown," he said.
"It is now important to avoid inflammatory words and actions to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean," he stressed.
Stoltenberg said the ministerial meeting discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean yesterday and today adding that " that we had a good and constructive talks ."
The NATO chief also welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire in Libya.
"We welcomed the announced ceasefire in Libya. We strongly support the UN efforts to try to find a political peaceful solution to the conflict in the Libya." he said.
"Of course the first important step for any lasting peaceful solution is a ceasefire. Then it is important that all parties respect the ceasefire and implement the ceasefire," he said.
NATO defence ministers further discussed NATO's training mission in Iraq.
"While the security situation remains challenging, NATO remains committed to stepping up our support," he said.
"Today ministers tasked our military commanders to expand our mission in Iraq," he said.
He said the 30-member Alliance was forced to reduce the number of the personnel in the mission in Iraq because of COVID-19 and partly because of the health situation.
Stoltenberg noted that the current mission has roughly 500 personnel and added that it's too early to say anything exact about the size of the expanded mission but it will be significantly larger than the current mission in Iraq.
The ministers also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, he said and noted that "the next months are decisive for Afghanistan."
"The negotiations in Doha are fragile, but they are best chance for peace in a generation. And all Afghans should seize this historic opportunity. NATO backs the peace process," said Stoltenberg.
"And we have adjusted our presence to support it," he said saying that a few years ago the Alliance had over a hundred thousand troops engaged in combat operations.
"Now, we have reduced our presence to under 12,000," he added. (end)
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