Friday Jun 19, 2020
BRUSSELS: The reduction of NATO forces in Afghanistan will be decided by the full coordination of our allies. Operations in Afghanistan are aimed at maintaining peace in the country at all costs, said the NATO Secretary-General on Thursday.
This was said during an online conference of the Defence Ministers of NATO countries in Brussels. SG Stoltenberg said, during his press conference, it was discussed that as part of a coordinated decision by NATO allies, it was decided earlier this year to move to "Phase A-Light" which is a reduced NATO presence in Afghanistan.
"But we maintained the bases, the regional presence of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, including a German-led presence in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, with many other Allies," he added. He also mentioned the presence of the Italian-led presence in Herat, in the west of Afghanistan.
"We will now have a process in NATO where we will sit together, the US and all other allies and discuss different options, different possibilities for further reductions," Stoltenberg disclosed. "But of course, that will be done in a coordinated way, in an orderly way, and it will depend on the developments in Afghanistan. And perhaps the most important thing now is to make sure that Taliban breaks ties, all their bonds with the Al-Qaeda, and also that we have intra-Afghan negotiations," he added.
He said that NATO was prepared for further reductions and that it was addressed by Secretary Esper in detail during the meeting. He announced further consultations on the matter.
Stoltenberg said that the meeting also reviewed the coronavirus pandemic, Russia's defense preparations and NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said the presence of the COVID-19 virus did not mean that the rest of NATO's challenges were over. He added that state and non-state elements were trying to destabilize, divide and disrupt the NATO alliance.
"Therefore, NATO will continue to play its role in defending itself against any threat against its allies," he added. Stoltenberg said the meeting reviewed Russia's growing nuclear capabilities and its dual-use missile technology, as well as the impact of its threat against NATO.