NATO Secretary General welcomes new US South Asia strategy
I welcome President Trump’s new, conditions-based approach to Afghanistan and the region. NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan and I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with Secretary Mattis and our Allies and international partners.
NATO Allies and partners have already committed to increasing our presence in Afghanistan. NATO currently has over 12,000 troops in the country. In recent weeks, more than fifteen nations have pledged additional contributions to our Resolute Support Mission. We place special emphasis on continuing the development of Afghan Special Forces, Air Forces and improving command and control.
Our presence in Afghanistan is a direct consequence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, when the Alliance first invoked our collective defence clause, Article 5. Hundreds of thousands of troops from Europe, Canada and partner countries have served side-by-side with American forces, and over a thousand have paid the ultimate price. With NATO’s support, Afghanistan now has professional security forces of around 350,000 soldiers and police. In 2014, we successfully transferred full responsibility for security to them. Today, we continue to train, advise and assist them, and provide them with financial support. Our aim remains to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries.
We encourage all Afghans to work towards a negotiated political settlement and a sustainable peace. At the same time, we urge all countries in the region to do their utmost to shut down sanctuaries for extremist groups, support peace and reconciliation, and contribute to a stable and secure Afghanistan.