NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with Defense Minister-designate Masoom Stanikzai at the NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commended the bravery and heroism of Afghan security forces for thwarting the complex terrorist attack on parliament in Kabul on Monday.
Mr. Stoltenberg was speaking at the NATO defense ministerial meeting in Brussels on Thursday where the member states discussed the progress of Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
On the second day of meeting, NATO defense ministers reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to support Afghanistan even after their current non-combat mission ends next year.
Mr. Stoltenberg said NATO member states will maintain “a civilian-led presence” in Afghanistan, but dropped enough hints to suggest that the support will not last forever.
“In the long run, no country can be dependent on a high number of foreign forces,” he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg said NATO member states will maintain “a civilian-led presence” in Afghanistan, but dropped enough hints to suggest that the support will not last forever
Addressing a press conference after the day’s session, Mr. Stoltenberg termed his first meeting with the Defense Minister-designate Masoom Stanikzai as “very good”.
“We took stock of the progress made since the launch of Resolute Support at the beginning of this year,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.“We discussed the evolution of the mission and looked at how we will continue to support the Afghan National Security Forces.”
The combat mission of NATO forces formally ended in Afghanistan in December last year, after which the Afghan security forces assumed full responsibility of the security.
The Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA)constitutes a key element of the legal framework under which NATO-led Resolute Support mission continues its presence in Afghanistan, as mutually agreed between the two parties at 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago.
Mr. Stoltenberg said it has been a difficult period for Afghan security forces with armed insurgents stepping up their activities across the country.
“There have been attacks in Kabul and fighting across the country,” he said, adding that the security forces have “shown exemplary courage, determination and commitment”.
He said the national unity government of Afghanistan is determined to bring peace to the country and urged the government to implement wide-ranging reforms.
He did not clearly underline the future commitment of NATO to Afghanistan but reiterated what he had said at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Turkey last month.
“Today, we have confirmed our commitment to a civilian-led presence in Afghanistan after the Resolute Support to further develop Afghan security institutions,” he said.
“This is a time of changes and challenges, both for Afghanistan and for NATO. But together, we will rise to the challenges and we will stand together,” he added.
While the combat mission of NATO forces has ended in Afghanistan, around 13,000 foreign forces have stayed back for training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces.
He did not clearly underline the future commitment of NATO to Afghanistan but reiterated what he had said at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Turkey last month
Despite the efforts made by the Afghan government and its foreign partners to limit the impact of conflict on civilians, the number of civilian casualties has touched a record high in 2015.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has documented a record high number of 2,937 civilian casualties (974 civilian deaths and 1,963 injured) in the first four months of 2015, marking a 16 percent increase over the same period in 2014.
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