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Stoltenberg backs peace efforts to end Afghan war

AT News Report

KABUL: Alliance Chief Jens Stoltenberg has reaffirmed NATO’s fully support for U.S. efforts to end the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and lead toa broker deal with the Taliban group.

Ahead of NATO Defense Minister Summit in Brussels,NATO Secretary General said Tuesday Afghanistan would be an important agenda of their meeting, in which NATO members were expected to reaffirm their commitment toward NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

“Allies [NATO members] fully support the United States efforts to reach a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan,” said Gen. Stoltenberg, adding the Afghan peace process was a unique opportunity to end the war.

Gen. Stoltenberg emphasized NATO was committed to Afghanistan under the Resolute Support Mission. Funding and training Afghan security forces remained key elements of creating conditions for making peace with the Taliban insurgents, he said.

Stoltenberg once again noted that the fate of NATO presence in the country depended on a possible peace accord with the Taliban group.

Chief of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization harshly denounced the Taliban’s statement which threatened Afghan media outlets over what the group called, “Anti-Taliban advertisement.”He called Afghanistan’s freedom of press an un-negotiable and fundamental value.

In 2014, the alliance members pulled out combat troops from Afghanistan, but they kept 17,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partner countries. Out of the 17,000 troops, 8,475 soldiers are Americans.

The United State President Donald Trump initially announced a strong offensive on the Taliban insurgents following taking over White Oval office in 2016. But in July 2018, President Trump order U.S. diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban.

In September 2018, U.S. State Secretary appointed ZalmayKhalilzadas U.S. Special Envoy for AfghanistanReconciliation. Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Khalilzad held six rounds of talks with members of Taliban negotiators in Doha, Qatar, where they agreed on a framework of a possible peace accord.

U.S. troop withdrawal, counter-terrorism assurance,direct dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and comprehensive ceasefire were four parts of the U.S.-Taliban talk’s framework.

The Taliban group several times refused to meet delegation of the government, saying U.S. troop withdrawal should be an initial move toward peace. The U.S., however, pushed to set up direct talks between the government and the Taliban.

Khalilzad recently announced that he would meet representatives of the Taliban in the next week to make progress over peace process in the country. Reports suggested that U.S. and Taliban aimedto firm up a date for foreign troop pullout from the country.

On the ground, however, the extensivemilitary engagement between the government forces and the Taliban insurgents claim lives on record numbers.According to HamdullahMohib, the National Security Advisor, Afghan security forces lost 50 members to the chronicle violence each day.

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