The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
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US negotiating a peace agreement with Taliban, not a leave one: NATO

NATO Chief 2
Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the first day of meetings of the NATO Foreign Ministers

KABUL: Addressing a Press Conference following the last meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers’ session here on Thursday, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would make decisions on its future presence in Afghanistan following ongoing negotiations with the Taliban.
 ”We have just finished a meeting of NATO’s Foreign Ministers with a discussion about fair burden sharing in the Alliance.” Stoltenberg said. We are making major progress, including with four consecutive years of rising defense investments, and deploying more forces for NATO – with more than 20,000 troops serving in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq, he said.
“We also discussed the efforts of the United States to seek a political settlement in Afghanistan” Stoltenberg said, adding the US envoy for the Afghan peace process, Zalmay Khalilzad held consultations with NATO allies last week on progress in negotiations with the Taliban and the issue would be kept coordinated with the alliance.
“We went in to Afghanistan together, and we agree that we will take any decisions on our future presence together” he said.
“We also discussed our enormous progress in the fight against ISIS. Millions have been freed from oppression and ISIS has lost all of the territory it once controlled. NATO is committed to working with partners in the region, like Iraq, to ensure that ISIS can never return. Training local forces is one of the best weapons we have in the fight against terrorism,” he added.
In response to a question whether all NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan if there was a leave plan considering to Stoltenberg’s previous statements on ‘in together, out together’ he said, “Khalilzad has stated many times that what he is negotiating is not a leaving agreement but a peace agreement,”
He added the overall aim of the ongoing negotiations was to reach a political agreement that could make it possible to have peace in Afghanistan for the first time in many years.
In response to a question whether the gains made over the last 18 years would be damaged as result of political deal with the Taliban, he said, “But as we have all stated many, many times, also, of course, in the consultations with Ambassador Khalilzad, is that we need to make sure that any peace deal ensures that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists”
“A part of any sustainable peace in Afghanistan has also to include Afghan reconciliation. So, the talks which are going on now is, in a way, the first step towards a broader peace process which also include, of course, the Afghan government because that’s the only way to have a sustainable peace,” Stoltenberg said.
He added that the presence of international forces in Afghanistan was part of the ongoing negotiations. “So what kind of presence under what kind of framework? Well, that remains to be decided. That will be part of the agreement. In NATO we are now looking into different options for how NATO can support a potential peace agreement. But it’s far too early to conclude,” he said.
The main issues now are to provide as much support as possible to the ongoing talks and then, based on that, we will make decisions on our future presence and in what form NATO Allies will or will not be part of any future international presence, he concluded.
The Kabul Times

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.