The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg marked the alliance's 70th anniversary with a rare address to the US Congress were on Wednesday where he said that the Alliance remains in Afghanistan to fight terrorism while it fully supports the peace process in the country.
“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.
The NATO chief mentioned that over a thousand have paid the ultimate price and many more have been seriously wounded, adding that “we honour their service and their sacrifice”.
Before this, the US President Donald Trump said that the Afghan war has been an “endless war” but pointing to the Afghan peace talks emphasized that lots of positive things are happening in Afghanistan.
Meeting with Stoltenberg at Whitehouse on Tuesday, Trump labeled the war in Afghanistan “ridiculous and unfortunate” adding that 19 years have passed since the war began.
Trump said the US and its NATO allies have made great strides in Afghanistan and are working to end the long-lasted war.
“Well, thank you very much. And I will say — you mentioned Afghanistan. I think we’ve made a lot of great strides recently in Afghanistan. It’s — we call it the “endless war.” Nineteen years. The real number is 19 years. It’s unfortunate. It’s ridiculous. And it’s been a very interesting period of time. But we’ve made a lot of strides. A lot of things are happening in Afghanistan that are very positive. So we’ll see how that all comes out. And I appreciate your help,” Trump said.
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.