NATO insists on Afghan-led peace process

KABUL: As the peace efforts are getting momentum in national and international level to find a political settlement for the Afghan conflict, the NATO’s chief said the government of Afghanistan has to be part of the reconciliation process as he addressed a press conference in Brussels on Monday, April 1.
He said the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting will be held on April 3rd and 4rd and that among other topics, the NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism and the US efforts for reaching a political settlement in Afghanistan will also be discussed in the meeting.  
“There can be no lasting peace in Afghanistan without Afghan reconciliation, and the Afghan government has to be part of that,” he said.  ”That’s obvious. So we are working closely with United States.” 
Stoltenberg said the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held consultations with Allies at NATO last week, for the fourth time. 
“Ambassador Khalilzad held consultations with Allies here at NATO just last week, for the fourth time. And our commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission, and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Kabul, are closely coordinating with Ambassador Khalilzad. We are in Afghanistan together and we will take any decisions on our future presence together,” he said.   He said NATO allies stand together in the fight against Daesh and that there has been major progress in this regard. “We also stand together in the fight against ISIS, and we have made major progress. Millions have been freed from oppression,” he said.
He reiterated that the message from all NATO’s Allies, including United States is that they went in together and they will make decisions on our future presence together, but he added that “those decisions will, of course, depend on what happens around the negotiating table”. 
He said NATO is committed to the security of Afghanistan, providing both training, practical support to the Afghan security forces, but also continued financial support. 
“We made a pledge to continue our financial support until 2024. So we are committed. But at the same time, of course, we don’t want to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary. We would like to create the conditions for us to be able to draw down our presence. But that depends on the negotiations,” he stressed. 
He said that they have increased the number of NATO trainers in order to further help Afghan forces.
There are numbers around 17,000 troops from 39 NATO Allies and partner countries.
“We have actually increased the number of NATO trainers in Afghanistan because we know that the best way to reach a peaceful negotiated solution is to send a message to the Taliban that they will not win on the battlefield. So that’s the reason why we are training and supporting the Afghan forces,” he added.
The Kabul Times

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