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NATO chief welcomes Trump’s Afghanistan strategy

NATO chief welcomes Trump’s Afghanistan strategy

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On
Aug 22, 2017 - 15:33

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): NATOinfo-icon Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s new “conditions-based” approach to Afghanistaninfo-icon,” saying the alliance remained committed to the war-torn country.

“NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan and I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with [US Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis and our allies and international partners,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Trump announced Monday night the US would maintain its military presence in Afghanistan based on certain “conditions” being met, and did not specify a timeline for withdrawal. He also accused Pakistaninfo-icon of providing a “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”

In a subtle nod to Trump’s take on Pakistan, Stoltenberg said: “We urge all countries in the region to do their utmost to shut down sanctuaries for extremist groups, support peace and reconciliation, and contribute to a stable and secure Afghanistan.”

In a statement, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the US’s commitment was “very welcome,” but did not announce any additional troop increase.

“Our aim remains to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries,” Stoltenberg said.

He said NATO allies and partners had already committed to increasing military presence in Afghanistan and in recent weeks, more than 15 nations had pledged additional contributions to the Resolute Support Mission.

“We place special emphasis on continuing the development of Afghan Special Forces, Air Forces and improving command and control.”

The NATO chief said they encouraged all Afghans to work towards a negotiated political settlement and a sustainable peace.

In his prime-time address to the nation on America’s new policy toward South Asia, President Trump reached out to India for economic development of Afghanistan.

“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaida, would instantly fill just as happened before September 11,” said the president.

Meanwhile, US Special Chargé d’Affaires in Kabul Ambassador Hugo Llorens said President Trump in his new strategy renewed commitment to success in Afghanistan and in the broader South Asia region. 

He said the President was ‘very clear’ about the United States’ continuing support for the national unity government and the Afghan people for their quest to achieve security, stability, prosperity, and peace. 

“At the core of this commitment, we will continue to support Afghan forces in defending their country while we also maintain pressure on the Talibaninfo-icon to join a peace process with the Afghan government to end the war in Afghanistan.”

The ambassador said they would emphasize with all regional countries the importance of cooperation to reduce the threat of terrorism and nuclearized conflict. 

“Our strategy is based on conditions on the ground, and we will stand by Afghanistan’s side as long as it takes to get the job done.  So just understand, the United States is not going anywhere.”

“We will continue to partner with the Government of National Unity and the Afghan people in our common fight against terrorists and those forces unwilling to reconcile.”

The US envoy asked the Afghan government to redouble its reform efforts and deliver on vital promises such as holding parliamentary elections next year and presidential elections in 2019, rooting out corruption, and enacting the tough reforms necessary for meaningful private sector-led economic growth. 

To maintain stability in the face of insurgent threats, he said, Afghanistan’s leaders must also increase outreach to all ethnic groups and seek greater diversity and inclusivity in the government.

“Real challenges lay ahead, but I am confident Afghanistan can surmount them.  As I have said previously on many occasions, we and our allies are firmly with you, and we are not going anywhere.”

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