The Kabul Times.
Politics

NATO remains in Afghanistan to fight terrorism, train Afghan forces, Stoltenberg

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Although 17 years passed from NATO presence in Afghanistan, there are still threats posed by terrorist groups in Afghanistan. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking in US congress, once again assured of NATO’s commitment to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and said: “NATO remains today in Afghanistan to fight terrorism and to train Afghan forces.
“NATO remains in Afghanistan today to fight terrorism and to train Afghan forces. Our goal is not to stay there forever. We should not stay any longer than is necessary,” Stoltenberg said. “We went in together. We will decide on our future presence together. And when the time comes, we will leave together,” he said.
He said NATO fully supports the Afghan peace process and that it should pave the way for reconciliation. 
“NATO fully supports the peace process. It must pave the way for Afghan reconciliation. There can only be peace if Afghanistan stays free from international terrorists. And for peace to be sustainable it must build on our achievements,” he added. 
He said that NATO has created the conditions for social and economic progress in Afghanistan and “bringing education and human rights to women and girls.
Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said the Taliban cannot win on the battlefields and that it is better for the group to sit with the Afghan government at the negotiation table and find a political settlement. 
Stoltenberg said the only way that can bring a settlement in Afghanistan is political options and that the US and NATO support Afghanistan Security and Defense Forces and these forces will never lose on the battlefields to the Taliban.
Afghan political experts believe that Taliban want foreign forces to leave Afghanistan and if foreign forces hastily withdraw from Afghanistan, Afghans will lose all achievements that have obtained in the past 17 years.
“If big countries of the world want lasting peace in Afghanistan and protection of the 17-year achievements, they should make effort to exert necessary political pressures on countries supporting the Taliban group so that they convince the group join peace process and stop violence in the country.
Meanwhile, a number of Afghan military experts consider continued presence of NATO in Afghanistan as effective for training and support the country’s defense and security forces.
“Undoubtedly, NATO in particular US has cooperate with Afghanistan in security, reconstruction and training of ANDSF; therefore, their presence is a need,” an Afghan military expert Javed Kohistani.
It is worth mentioning that US and NATO member countries now want to end the 17-year old war in Afghanistan through direct peace talks with the Taliban group.
In the meantime, Afghanistan government has increased efforts to preparations for Consultative Peace Jirgan determined to be held in two weeks to consult maintaining peace in the country.
Suraya Raiszada

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