A+ A-

Stoltenberg: NATO facing big dilemma, to stay or not in Afghanistan

BRUSSELS, Jan 6 (KUNA) - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday reiterated his support to the peace talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul, but admitted that the 30-member Alliance is facing a difficult dilemma in Afghanistan.
"We support those efforts, but at the same time we know that we will be faced with a very difficult dilemma," he said in virtual press statement ahead of his address to German Christian Social Union (CSU) parliamentarians today.
"Next month (in February), NATO's defence ministers will meet, and they need to decide whether to remain, whether to stay in Afghanistan with our military presence, and then risk being engaged in a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan, or whether to leave," he said.
He stressed that "the most important condition is to make sure that Taliban meets that requirement, that they break all ties with international terrorists, including al-Qaeda." "So this very difficult decision is something we need to make together because whatever we do, we need to do it in a coordinated and well-planned way," he said.
NATO has around 12,000 troops under its Resolute Support training and advice mission in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in his statement, Stoltenberg said he believes that "2021 is a year where we all have hopes that we will be able to turn the corner in the fight against the pandemic and our military forces, NATO allies, NATO provide support to the civilian efforts, trying to cope with the pandemic." The NATO chief said he has invited US President-elect Joe Biden to attend the NATO summit later this year.
He said the summit would be important because it will demonstrate the unity of this alliance and the commitment of United States, North America to Europe, and the importance of NATO both for North America and Europe.
"Any attempt to divide Europe and North America will not only weaken the transatlantic bond or weaken NATO, but also divide Europe, so we need to stand together, North America and Europe, and I really count on Germany playing key role in these efforts," added Stoltenberg. (end) nk.ibi