NATO Secretary General visits Afghanistan as country takes historic first step towards peace
Today (29 February 2020), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg paid an official visit to Kabul.
At a ceremony held at the President’s Palace with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, marking the Joint Declaration between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and signature of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban, Mr. Stoltenberg said: “The agreements between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and between the United States and the Taliban, promise to end decades of devastating conflict and to pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, as they begin to build a better future for all. This is a victory for peace and a victory for the Afghan people. Through their bravery and determination, and the support of the international community, Afghanistan is a very different country today than it was in 2001. I have seen this transformation, from despair to hope, driven by a deep desire for peace, in the eyes of every Afghan I have met.”
He stressed that, “the challenge now is to preserve these gains. The price of peace cannot be to sacrifice progress. Peace will only be sustainable if the human rights of all Afghans – women, men and children – are protected.” The Secretary General stressed that “the time for peace is now,” stating that NATO Allies and partners stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Afghan people, as they have done since 2001.
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 Sir Nicholas Kay, as well as with Allied ambassadors, representatives of the European Union and United Nations, and Afghan senior officials.
NATO has been engaged in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, when for the first time in history, the Alliance triggered its collective defence clause, Article 5, in support of the U.S. As part of the combat ISAF mission and currently the training Resolute Support mission, hundreds of thousands of men and women from NATO Allies and partners countries have served in Afghanistan, and over 3,000 have paid the ultimate price.