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PublishDate: Monday, June 14, 2021 14:58

Stoltenberg says many decisions will be taken at NATO Summit

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday he was looking forward to welcoming all NATO leaders to the day’s summit and said the decisions that will be made will send a strong message of unity, of resolve and that “we are making NATO stronger in an age of global competition.”

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_#Stoltenberg laid out a number of key decision areas for the Summit, including strengthening political consultations, reinforcing collective defense, and enhancing resilience for infrastructure and supply chains.

Stoltenberg also said that Afghanistan, Russia, and support for #Ukraine and Georgia will feature in the day-long event.

“NATO is the most successful alliance in history because, for more than seventy years, we have changed as the world changes”, the Secretary-General said.  

“At our Summit on Monday, we will have far-ranging discussions, and take substantial decisions to make our strong Alliance even stronger and keep our one billion people safe”.

Stoltenberg said despite the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, the organization will continue to support Afghans and provide support to the security forces.

“We will continue to provide funding for Afghan security forces, that is a commitment that all Allies have made. And then we’re also now working on how we can provide out-of-country training for the Afghan security forces.”

He said NATO is also working on how to maintain and support critical infrastructure, including the airport.

“NATO is planning to provide support and also some NATO Allies are now in direct dialogue, including the United States and Turkey and others, on how to make sure that we can maintain an international airport in Kabul.”

“This is, of course, important for NATO Allies, but it’s also important for the whole international community for diplomatic presence, and also for continued development aid.

“So, in essence, we have been there for almost 20 years. The intention was never to be there forever. We are clear-eyed about the risks that the decision to end our military presence entails, but at the same time, we will continue to support the Afghans,” he said.

US President Joe Biden, who has already arrived in Brussels for the summit is meanwhile expected to hold talks on the sidelines of the event with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip #Erdogan.

Erdogan said on Sunday his country would be the “only reliable” country left to stabilize Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops.

Speaking to journalists at an Istanbul airport before leaving for Brussels, Erdogan said he would discuss the issue in his first face-to-face meeting with Biden.

“America is preparing to leave Afghanistan soon and from the moment they leave, the only reliable country to maintain the process over there is obviously Turkey,” Erdogan said.

This comes after reports emerged last week that Turkey had offered to keep troops in Afghanistan to protect the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once US and NATO forces have left.

Concerns among the foreign community have been growing over this issue as the Kabul airport is the main entry and exit point for diplomats and aid workers.

According to AFP, Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish officials had informed their American counterparts about Ankara’s plans in Afghanistan after the US troop pullout, without providing details.

They are “pleased and happy. We will be able to discuss the Afghanistan process with them,” he said.

AFP meanwhile quoted a Turkish official as having said Turkey’s troops could remain “as long as certain conditions including legal and financial are met.”

“If Turkey is to stay it will do so under which frame: under NATO umbrella or bilateral terms? And if it will be under NATO auspices, under which authorization?” asked the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

The official also confirmed that Western powers were willing to let Turkey stay and protect the Kabul airport.

But, the official added, “why should Turkey try hard if nobody is going to give support? These issues need to be clarified.”

Following last week’s reports on Turkey’s offer, the Taliban on Saturday issued a statement warning against this.

According to the group, should any foreign country decide to keep some troops in Afghanistan, be it for safeguarding embassies or the airport, they will be considered “invaders”.

 

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