NATO Secretary General and top military leaders visit Afghanistan
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg paid an official visit to Kabul on Tuesday (6 November 2018), accompanied by the Chairman of the Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti.
In a press conference following a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, the Secretary General congratulated the government and people of Afghanistan on the recent parliamentary elections. “For the first time, the Afghan forces assumed responsibility for security during the election,” he said, calling it “an important achievement”. He added: “I look forward to a smooth completion of the election process, and to the presidential election in the spring of next year.”
Mr. Stoltenberg underlined that NATO’s support for Afghanistan will continue, saying: “NATO is determined to see Afghanistan succeed. That’s why around 16,000 troops from 39 countries serve in our Resolute Support Mission.” He welcomed that the mission’s work has led to particular improvements in the Afghan Special Forces and Air Force.
The Secretary General and the Afghan leadership shared views on the security situation. Mr. Stoltenberg praised the Afghan forces for bravery and loyalty, and called on the Taliban and other insurgent groups to “stop killing their follow Afghans”. He added: “the Taliban must understand that continuing the fight is pointless and counterproductive. To be part of Afghanistan’s future, they must sit down at the negotiating table.”
The Secretary General further stressed the need for an inclusive Afghan-owned and led peace process, saying: “the potential for peace is greater now than it has been in many years”. He added that “we count on the government to meet its commitments for good governance, the rule of law, fighting corruption and protecting the rights of all - especially women.”
Later in the day, the Secretary General and his delegation attended a ministerial meeting chaired by National Security Advisor Dr Hamdullah Mohib. The Secretary General’s delegation also met with the Commander of the Resolute Support Mission, General Austin Miller, and with NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Cornelius Zimmermann, as well as with Allied ambassadors, and representatives of the European Union and United Nations. Later on Tuesday, the Secretary General, Air Marshal Sir Stuart, and General Scaparrotti also met with representatives of Afghan civil society.
On Wednesday, the Secretary General and his delegation paid a visit to Train Advise and Assist Command – West. Headquartered in Herat, the command is led by Italian Brigadier General Francesco Bruno. In remarks to assembled troops, Mr. Stoltenberg expressed NATO’s deep appreciation for Italy’s long-standing contributions in Afghanistan. He further paid tribute to all Allied and partner personnel in the country, thanking them for their service and sacrifice.