NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Aspen Security Forum

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the United States and allies do not seek a leave deal by entering into negotiations with the Taliban political leaders.

Speaking Aspen Security Forum, Secretary General Stoltenberg said NATO is very involved in peace efforts now. “We consult with Ambassador Khalilzad frequently, I speak with him, he has been in the NATO North Atlantic Council many times.”

Stoltenberg further added “We have our NATO representative in Kabul, so, closely linked up to the negotiations. So, of course, this is a US envoy but, but all NATO Allies are involved.”

He stressed “Because we went into Afghanistan together, we are going to make decisions on our future posture together, and when the time is right, we’ll also leave together.”

Furthermore, Stoltenberg said NATO strongly support the efforts by Ambassador Khalilzad to reach an agreement with the Taliban.

He also added that “We will not stay in Afghanistan longer than needed. We have been able to go from 140,000 to now roughly 16,000, to go from a combat operation with casualties and to train, assist and advise mission with very much fewer casualties.”

U.S. peace talks with Taliban

The NATO Secretary General said “Of course, we hope that Khalilzad will succeed. This is not a leave deal we are seeking, but a peace deal, meaning that it has to secure that Afghanistan doesn’t once again become a safe haven for international terrorists.”

Stoltenberg also added that “It has to secure inter-Afghan dialogue on how to maintain the gains we have made there. We have invested heavily, blood and treasure, in Afghanistan for many years.”

Meanwhile, he said “Of course, it will affect the presence of international forces, NATO forces, US forces in Afghanistan. In what way? It’s a bit early to say, because that’s now negotiated. I hope we will see a result.”

“And as Secretary Pompeo said, I think it was at a NATO meeting recently, hopefully something within weeks or months. So we hope, but nothing is agreed before everything is agreed, and therefore it’s a bit early to try to speculate about the different elements,” Stoltenberg added.