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Afghanistan remains “top priority” for NATO, Stoltenberg says

AT News Report

KABUL: NATO’s support to Afghanistan with both forces and funding remains “steadfast” the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday during a press conference ahead of the second day of the NATO defense ministerial in Brussels.

“Our support to Afghanistan with both forces and funding remains steadfast. NATO has supported the US-led peace talks, and we would welcome if they were resumed but the Taliban have to make real concessions and show real willingness to reduce violence,” Stoltenberg said.

He said the ministers will discuss NATO mission in Afghanistan, which remains a “top priority” for the alliance.

Stoltenberg added that NATO will continue to support the Afghan security forces as they fight international terrorism and create the conditions for peace.

However, he said that NATO does not want to stay in Afghanistan for longer than necessary, but said an early withdrawal would have large consequences.

Stoltenberg reiterated that NATOI is committed to combatting terrorism in Afghanistan in order to prevent repeat of the 9/11 attacks, and to prevent the reestablishment of Daesh caliphate.

“We are in Afghanistan to defend ourselves.”

In a response to question, Stoltenberg said corruption is an issue in Afghaistna that has been rasied many times. “It’s extremely important that part of the NATO funds is used for fighting corruption in Afghanistan.”

He also talked about peace talks, saying “NATO will welcome the resumption of talks between US and the Taliban.”

This comes as in early September, U.S. President Donald Trump declared the peace talks with the Taliban “dead” following a recent attack in Kabul that killed 12 innocent Afghans, including a U.S. service member.

However, indirect peace efforts by Trump’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been restarted and meeting main stakeholders in the Afghan peace talks.

On Friday he met with Russia, China and Pakistan representatives on the Afghan peace process held in capital city of Russia.  

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