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US, NATO renew commitments to Afghanistan

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, and NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg renewed their commitment to Afghanistan during their visit to Kabul on Wednesday.

During joint press conference with President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace, Mattis and Stoltenberg pledged the support of US and NATO allies to the ongoing conflict in the country. They expressed determination to stop the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

President Ghani, while jointly briefing newsmen, said, “we want to pursue peace on two fronts; first, peace with Pakistan, through state-to-state dialogue and second we seek inter-Afghan peace process. It is proven fact that no one can impose their will on the people of Afghanistan through war.”

He furthered, “Those who do not want to join the peace process will face isolation and be sentenced to history.”

He added that those who want peace, this is the best opportunity for them, and must not lose it.

He assured that Afghan government is ready for peace, and asked all conflict parties to realize the new situation and make use of it.

He insisted that peace will also pave the way for strong defense against international terrorism and economic development. “I call on our neighbors, near and far, from India to Russia, to participate in regional reconciliation, in order to bring regional stability,” he said, adding, “combating terrorism effectively requires a regional and global consensus, and this risk must be taken serious.

Moreover, he added, “The Taliban now have two potations; one, to be a tool for someone else’s policy and remain allied with international terrorists which result in their annihilation; or end the war and violence and participate in bringing peace and prosperity to the country.”

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, “We will not abandon Afghanistan to a merciless enemy.”He added, “More US troops alongside additional allied contributions are making it clear that we are not quitting this fight”

Uncertainty has been replaced by certainty, he said, adding, “With our new condition based South Asia strategy, we will be better to support here your forces to turn the tides against the terrorists.”

“The only path to peace and political legitimacy for them (Taliban) is through a negotiated settlement, we welcome those who commit to a peaceful future for Afghanistan.”

He furthered, “we support Afghan lead reconciliation solution to this conflict. He insisted that they revise commitments for Afghanistan not only for our joint concerned, but for our unity.

He added, “US will support four years security plan of the Afghan government, and do whatever is possible to protect people of the war-hit country.

“We are committed to make a stable Afghanistan, and end the war here,” he noted.

Likewise, NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg told newsmen, “The aim of our presence here (Afghanistan), is to bring peace and stability for the Afghan masses.

He added, “Much progress has been made, but there is too much violence, still too much instability and still too much corruption.”

“International Community spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan, so if we leave Afghanistan we must pay more cost,” he added.

He added that if NATO leaves Afghanistan, it is possible the country once again change into hideouts of terrorists, thus it is a big threat for Afghanistan, region and the world.

“NATO won’t leave, when situation get harder, we will resist.”

He added “The Taliban must understand, they can’t win on the battlefield. There is much to gain through the negotiation table. I encourage the Afghan government to prepare the ground for peace and reconciliation.”

“NATO will continue to support a peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led and Afghan- owned.” He called on all regional countries to help Kabul process. At the end he asked National Unity Government to work tackle corruption and bring reforms.

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