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NATO to ponder mission in Afghanistan amid US whirlwind pullout plans

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KABUL: The NATO has said they will consult on the future of their mission in Afghanistan and will decided together on when to leave Afghanistan as US President Donald Trump said to bring home all the remaining troops by Charismas

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated the alliance’s longstanding position that it will end its mission in Afghanistan only when conditions on the ground permit.

“We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference after talks with North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

“NATO is in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. And we have to remember that the reason NATO is in Afghanistan is an attack on the United States. When the United States was attacked on 9/11 of 2001, then NATO for the first time in our history invoked our collective defence clause Article 5. And hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Europe, from Canada, have served shoulder to shoulder with US soldiers in Afghanistan to prevent terrorists from once again controlling that country. And we are committed to our mission in Afghanistan because it is in our security interests to make sure that Afghanistan does not once again become a platform where terrorists can plan, organize and conduct terrorist attacks on our own countries,” he said.

He reiterated support to the peace process. “We welcome the talks between the government in Afghanistan and the Taliban. And as part of the peace effort we have reduced our presence in Afghanistan.”

He said “not so long ago we had more than one hundred thousand troops in a big combat operation. And now we have roughly 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan and they support, they train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces.”

He added, “we will consult on the future of our mission in Afghanistan. It is important that we coordinate our efforts; and out of the 12,000 troops that are now in Afghanistan a significant part of those are European troops (…). And then of course, we have the American troops in addition. So this is really an effort of all Allies and partners and our approach is a conditions-based approach. We will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground, because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan, because it is in our interest to preserve the long-term security of Afghanistan.”

He said the NATO had decided to go into Afghanistan together and they will make decisions on future adjustments together and when the time is right, the will leave together. “And this has been the message from NATO Allies for many, many years and it continues to be the message from NATO Allies.”

“We should have the small remaining number of four Brave men and women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas,” Trump tweeted.

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