Clear-eyed about challenges in Afghanistan: NATO chief

KABUL (Pajhwok): With Afghanistan also on agenda, NATO leaders will meet in Brussels next week at what Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said a pivotal moment for their alliance and collective security.
“We are in an age of global competition. And we must respond to many threats and challenges at the same time,” Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of the meeting. He said Russia and China were pushing back against the rules-based international order. The continuing threat of terrorism, sophisticated cyber attacks, disruptive technologies and and climate change would be main topics to be discussed at the meeting.
“No country and no continent can deal with all these challenges alone. But Europe and North America are not alone. We stand together in NATO.” He said at the summit, they would open a new chapter by agreeing the NATO 2030 initiative, an ambitious agenda for security and defence and would agree to more political consultations. He added they would reinforce their collective defence with a strengthened military posture, increased readiness and a recommitment to the Defence Investment Pledge and would strengthen their resilience.
Stoltenberg said they would also address Afghanistan, saying their military presence was ending in the country, but their support for the Afghan forces and people would continue. He said at the summit, they would have far-ranging discussions, and would take substantial decisions.
To a question from Lailuma Sadid (Brussels Morning) about the fall of more than 20 districts to the Taliban and worsening security situation in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “We are very clear-eyed about the challenges, the difficulties we all face in Afghanistan and we are also clear-eyed about the risks the decision to end our military mission entails.” At the same time, he said, to continue the mission would also entail risks and they decided a few months ago to end the Resolute Support Mission, but to continue to support the Afghans, partly with a continued civilian presence that could provide advice and support to Afghan security institutions, partly by continued funding for Afghan Security Forces and all allies are committed to continuing to do so.
“And partly by also looking into how we can provide out-of-country training for the Afghan Security Forces, especially the Special Operations Forces. We are working on that now. But of course, any out-of-country training will be funded by NATO Allies.” he said they were also working on with the NATO allies how to maintain important infrastructure, such as an international airport in Kabul.
“Partly this is something NATO will support, and also we’re looking into how NATO allies can be part of that effort. Turkey is today a key ally when it comes to the running of the airport. There is a dialogue now going on between different allies, including Turkey, on exactly how we can try to continue to provide support for the airport and make sure the airport continues to operate at international standards.”
He said the airport was important not only for NATO, but for the whole international community, for the diplomatic presence of all countries, and of course also for development aid and different aid organizations. “So NATO allies are addressing these issues as we speak. And I expect this also to be an issue that will be addressed at the Summit”.