KABUL: US President Joe Biden at a press conference after the NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels on Monday said “there was a strong consensus in the room, among the leaders, in that meeting, on Afghanistan,” reiterating that the alliance will continue its support to Afghans after the withdrawal of international troops from the country.
“Our troops are coming home, but we agreed that our diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian commitment to the Afghan people and our support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces will endure,” Biden said.
“And I welcomed our Allies and partners to recognize that counterterrorism — that counterterrorism efforts must continue to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for attacks on our countries,” he said.
On Monday, the NATO leaders at the Brussels summit agreed to maintain funding for the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul after the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan ends.
Addressing a press conference after the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the RS mission is ending but NATO will continue supporting Afghanistan in four ways: funding Afghan forces, out-of-country training for Afghan forces, a continued civilian presence, and maintaining “critical infrastructure” such as the Kabul airport.
“NATO and allies are now working on how to ensure the continued operation of an international airport in Kabul. There were meetings also on the sidelines of the summit today. Turkey of course plays a key role in those efforts. We are working on exactly how to do it but there is a strong commitment from NATO and from NATO allies to ensure that we can operate an international airport,” he said.
NATO leaders in a statement issued from the Brussels summit affirmed their commitment to continue to stand with Afghanistan, its people, and its institutions in promoting security and upholding the hard-won gains of the last 20 years.
“Recalling our previous commitments, NATO will continue to provide training and financial support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, including through the Afghan National Army Trust Fund,” the statement said.
It added that NATO will retain a Senior Civilian Representative’s Office in Kabul to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance its partnership with Afghanistan.
“Recognizing its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan’s connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” said the statement.
“We will also step-up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners,” the statement said. “We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”
The Kabul Times