NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday reaffirmed the Alliance’s strong and enduring commitment to Afghanistan during bilateral talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul.
Addressing a joint press conference with Ghani after the meeting, Stoltenberg commended the Afghan security forces for their courage and determination in the fight against terrorism.
He said their progress in confronting the insurgents had denied them lasting gains.
Stoltenberg also welcomed recent moves by the Afghan forces to acquire new capabilities, and to step up their air operations.
“In 2015 the Afghan Air Force flew more than 20,000 missions – more than twice as many as the year before,” said Stoltenberg.
He stressed that “Afghan forces do not stand alone,” and highlighted that NATO Allies and partners have been working side-by-side with Afghanistan for over a decade.
“Today, NATO continues to support the Afghan forces with training, advice and assistance through the Resolute Support mission. And we continue to provide financial support to the Afghan forces. So that the Afghan forces can become sustainable in the long-term, protecting the Afghan people and suppressing terrorism,” he said.
According to him, NATO remains committed to support Afghanistan in the long-term, through political partnership and practical support.
Stoltenberg, Ghani and Abdullah discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and reviewed the government’s reforms. Stoltenberg however, welcomed the work of the National Unity Government and encouraged further progress.
He stressed that Afghanistan’s long-term success requires strong security institutions, stable leadership positions and effective mechanisms to root out corruption.
“It means stepping up Afghan investment in the security forces. And it also means ensuring that human rights, including for women and children, are fully respected,” said Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg also officially invited Ghani and Abdullah to attend the upcoming Warsaw Summit in July.
“I am honored that you both accepted my invitation. This will be an opportunity to review our joint efforts, and to deepen the relationship between NATO and Afghanistan even more,” he said.
Ghani meanwhile said the summit will be key for Afghanistan.
On the issue of peace negotiations, Ghani said it was still too early to comment. He did say however that the Afghanistan war was not a civil war but had a foreign element to it.
He said any interference in security institutions would not be acceptable.
Separately, the Stoltenberg met with General John Nicholson, the new Commander of the Resolute Support mission, and Ambassador Ismail Aramaz, NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan.