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8.1.2021    NATO to decide on troop’s level in Afghanistan next month

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said the Alliance would decide on the troop’s level in Afghanistan in the coming month. Speaking ahead of a virtual address to German Christian Social Union (CSU) parliamentarians on Wednesday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained that 2021 will be a crucial year for NATO. At a press point with Alexander Dobrindt, Chairman of the CSU Parliamentary Group, Stoltenberg praised Allied armed forces for supporting civilian efforts to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Stoltenberg also made clear that 2021 will be a year of decisions for Afghanistan. He welcomed the ongoing peace talks: “There are many challenges, and many uncertainties, but of course, peace talks are the only path to peace, the only way forward to a peaceful negotiated solution. We support those efforts.” Stoltenberg added that NATO Defence Ministers will assess the future of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan in February. The Secretary General also stated that 2021 will be an important year for arms control and non-proliferation. He said: “We need to make sure when the new START agreement expires next month that we don’t end up with a situation where there is no agreement regulating the number of nuclear warheads.” The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said there is a price if the Allies decide to stay, but there will also be a price if it is decided to leave the war-ridden country. Last month, in his remarks ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Stoltenberg said the price of staying is continued military involvement in Afghanistan, a price in treasure and in blood and the price of leaving is the risk of jeopardizing the gains made. The NATO Secretary General said in his phone call with President-elect Joe Biden, he underlined the importance of Afghanistan and ‘the dilemma’ the Alliance faces. “The main issue is that in the US-Taliban agreement, it is stated that all international troops, also NATO troops, should be out of Afghanistan by 1 May. That’s the reason why we are now faced with a very clear decision, a very difficult choice to be made, which actually represents a dilemma for all of us”, said Stoltenberg. The U.S. inked a peace deal with the Taliban in February last year that calls for withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan against security guarantees by the insurgents.

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