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Stoltenberg says price of leaving Afghanistan in uncoordinated way is “very high”

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KABUL: NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg has warned over hasty and uncoordinated way of leaving Afghanistan, saying the price of doing so could be very high.

This is as recently US media reported that incumbent US President Donald Trump is eyeing a troop drawdown against the advice of the nation’s top military officials.

“The price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high. Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organise attacks on our homelands. And ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq,” Stoltenberg said.

“I am in close contact with the US, as well as all other Allies as regards our mission in Afghanistan. NATO went into Afghanistan after an attack on the United States to ensure that it would never again be a safe haven for international terrorists.  Hundreds of thousands of troops from Europe and beyond have stood shoulder to shoulder with American troops in Afghanistan, and over one thousand of them have paid the ultimate price,” he said.

He added, “We now face a difficult decision. We have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and no NATO ally wants to stay any longer than necessary. But at the same time, the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high.”

NATO Allies support the peace process in Afghanistan, he added, saying “As part of this process, we have already significantly adjusted our presence. And we have repeatedly said that we will continue to review our troop levels. We now have under 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, and more than half of these are non-US forces. Even with further US reductions, NATO will continue its mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces. We are also committed to funding them through 2024.”

“We went into Afghanistan together. And when the time is right, we should leave together in a coordinated and orderly way. I count on all NATO allies to live up to this commitment, for our own security.”

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