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World

NATO says will not withdraw forces from Afghanistan ‘before time is right’

  • According to Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, the multilateral military alliance will not withdraw its forces from Afghanistan "before the time is right", after nearly two decades of involvement in the country's fight against terrorism.
  • The NATO Chief made these comments ahead of a virtual conference this week, which will signify the alliance's highest-level talks with the Biden Administration, after four years of tense relations under President Trump.
Published February 16, 2021

According to Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, the multilateral military alliance will not withdraw its forces from Afghanistan "before the time is right", after nearly two decades of involvement in the country's fight against terrorism.

The NATO Chief made these comments on Monday, ahead of a virtual conference this week, which will signify the alliance's highest-level talks with the Biden Administration, after four years of tense relations under President Trump.

Stoltenberg stated that "While no ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right", adding that "Ministers will continue to assess the situation on the ground and monitor developments very closely".

The key agenda of the upcoming virtual summit will reportedly be the fate of NATO's 9600-strong military support mission in Afghanistan, as the future of the NATO deployment will be largely determined by President Biden, who will either adhere to the May withdrawal deadline or could potentially risk a violent backlash from the Taliban by revoking the original agreement.

Stoltenberg stressed that NATO's continued presence in Afghanistan is "conditions-based", adding that "we will continue to take all measures to ensure the safety of our troops, and consider next steps in a deliberate and coordinated way".

The White House, under the Biden Administration, has stated that it will be reviewing the U.S-Taliban peace agreement, while the Pentagon has accused the militant group of not fulfilling its promises.

President Trump decreased the number of US troops to 2,500 in January, their lowest figure since the onset of the war on terror, as in the past several months, the Taliban has escalated attacks in Afghanistan amid wavering peace talks with the central government in Kabul.

The Taliban have already warned NATO ministers against seeking a “continuation of occupation and war.”

The NATO chief said the Taliban must do more to meet the terms of its deal, stating that "We see that there is still a need for the Taliban to do more when it comes to delivering on their commitments [...] The Taliban must reduce violence; negotiate in good faith and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with national terrorist groups.”

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