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Stoltenberg says closer to a peace deal in Afghanistan

 AT News Report

KABUL: In the wake of ongoing peace efforts, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday expressed optimistic over peace talks and said they are much closer to a peace deal in Afghanistan now than they ever been before.

In a press briefing to newsmen ahead of the Defense Ministers Meeting, Stoltenberg reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan, saying they strongly supported the on-going peace talks.

“We will also meet our Resolute Support partners, the partners that are together with us in Afghanistan,” he said, referring to defense ministers’ meeting.

He said all NATO Allies strongly supported the Afghan peace efforts. “And the best way to do that is to stay committed to Afghanistan, to continue to provide political support but also to continue to support the Afghan army and security forces with trainers and with funding.”

Peace talks and efforts to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan is getting new level as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday made unannounced visit to Kabul, where he said that with so much going on in the world right now, sometimes it’s easy to forget about America’s commitment here in Afghanistan, but the world should know that the Trump administration hasn’t forgotten and the American people have not forgotten.  “We must represent their interests here as ardently as ever.  So it was a critical time for me to make it back to Afghanistan.”

“As President Trump has said, after almost now two decades of war in Afghanistan, the hour has come for peace.  For the last nine months, the United States has facilitated a peace process intent on protecting our national interests while convening all the parties for inter-Afghan negotiations that will allow Afghans to fashion a political settlement and determine the future for their country,” he added

He furthered; “In my meeting with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah, we agreed that peace is our highest priority and that Afghanistan must never again serve as a platform for international terrorism.  I thanked President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah for their long-term partnership and support for Special Representative Khalilzad on these important issues.”

He added that as you’re aware, the United States and the Taliban reached an agreement in principle in January that any comprehensive peace agreement must address four interconnected issues:  counterterrorism, foreign troop presence, inter-Afghan dialogue leading to inter-Afghan negotiations, as well as a permanent ceasefire.

Regarding terrorism, he said that they have made real progress and are nearly ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban’s commitments to join fellow Afghans in ensuring that Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. 

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