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‘Contacts between US, Taliban laudable’

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference on Friday said he welcomes “contacts” between the United States and the Taliban and said that the US consults with NATO allies “regularly” regarding peace efforts in Afghanistan.

“Secretary Pompeo has discussed, briefed Allies. Ambassador Khalilzad has briefed Allies, discussed this with Allies. And we are consulting all the time because it is not only US in Afghanistan but we have to remember there are also many non-US troops in Afghanistan,” he said.   

Stoltenberg said that Afghanistan “remains our biggest military operation outside Europe” and he repeated NATO’s current mission “to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.”

Responding to a question about US President Donald Trump’s visit to Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said: “We think that the best way we can make sure that there is a credible deal, a real deal, is that we continue to support the Afghan security forces, sending a message to the Taliban that we are ready to stay, we are committed, and they will not win on the battlefield.”

Referring to the Taliban, the secretary general said: “They have to sit down at the negotiating table and make real compromises. And therefore, the message from NATO is that we are committed, we will continue to support the Afghan security forces but of course, we also welcome any efforts to try to find a peaceful negotiated solution, including, of course, reduction of violence.”

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