KABUL, Afghanistan – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 66th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Monday said its alliance “cannot let ISIS rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq,” adding NATO mission will continue to provide support to Afghan security forces.
While President Donald Trump pushes through the February accord on troops withdrawal, NATO has repeatedly warned of greater risk if the United States pulls out its forces from Afghanistan “too soon” or “uncoordinated”.
“As you know, the United States has announced that it will reduce its presence in Afghanistan. But the NATO mission will remain,” Stoltenberg said. “And we will continue to provide support to Afghan security forces.”
“We cannot risk Afghanistan becoming once more a platform for international terrorists to plan and organise attacks on our homelands,” he said. “And we cannot let ISIS rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq.”
Stoltenberg bids to address NATO’s future presence in Afghanistan at their next Defense Ministers meeting in February, saying they will be “faced with a difficult choice” and the peace process may falter.
“Either stay – and pay the price of a continued military engagement,” he said. “Or leave – and risk that the gains we have made are lost.”
“We have to remember that we [NATO and US troops] went into Afghanistan together. And when the time is right, we should leave together, in a coordinated way,” he concluded.
The remarks came at a time, US President Donald Trump has several times made tweet on troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by Christmas, but the announcements have been criticized by a number of critiques and US officials, including former military generals who have called it an attempt in favor of the Taliban.