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Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers and following a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council

NATO calls Afghan security situation “challenging”

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KABUL: NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg called the Afghanistan security situation “very difficult and challenging”. Talking to a new conference in Brussels, Stoltenberg said that the decision to exit NATO forces cause risks, but the organization remaining “would have implemented risks for our Alliance with more fighting, potentially more fighting, more and more casualties, and even the need to maybe increase the number of troops.”He said that NATO made the decision to end their presence within weeks in Afghanistan. “I think we have to understand that the intention was never to stay in Afghanistan forever,” he added. The numbers of NATO forces have been drawdown from 100,000 forces to 10,000 early this year, Stoltenberg said, adding that the number would go down to zero presently. “But as we end our military mission, we are stepping up our support to Afghanistan in other ways. First of all, we will maintain our civilian presence in Afghanistan to provide advice and capacity building to the Afghan security institutions,” he said.He reiterated, “We will fund the Afghan Security Forces, make sure that we are allocating significant amounts of money to the Afghan Security Forces.”“We will also provide; we are planning to provide out-of-country training for the Afghan Security Forces. And we are also now working on how we can sustain critical infrastructure. For instance, the airport provides support to the running of the airport and other critical infrastructure, which is important for the continued presence of the international community in Afghanistan,” he added.Stoltenberg said that Afghan forces were currently responsible for the security in their own country.“At some stage the Afghans have to take full responsibility, responsibility for their own future,” he said. “And I’m impressed by the strength and the courage of the Afghan security forces and knowing that there are risks, challenges, but also that’s exactly why we will continue to provide support to them.”

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