by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Resolute Support operational partner nations at the level of Defence Ministers
We have just had a productive meeting with our Resolute Support partners, together with Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Defence Bahrami. We reviewed the security situation. Afghan forces are making progress, even though the situation remains very challenging. I saw both the progress and the challenges during my recent visit to Afghanistan with US Defense Secretary Mattis.
This year, the Afghan security forces have denied the Taliban their strategic objective
of capturing a provincial capital. They have kept up the pressure on insurgents across the country and NATO remains committed to supporting them, as they develop their capabilities, strengthen command and control, and prepare the next generation of military leaders.
Today, we addressed four key issues: the troop level of our mission, funding for the Afghan forces, progress on reforms and reconciliation, and continued engagement with Pakistan. Currently, around 13,000 troops from 39 different countries serve in our Resolute Support Mission. Allies welcomed the United States briefing on the implications of the new South Asia Strategy on our mission. This has already led to an increase in the US troop contribution. 27 other nations have also committed to increase troop numbers in the coming months. So the size of our Resolute Support Mission will increase, from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops.
I strongly welcome the strengthened commitment and support demonstrated by all Allies and partners. This remains critical to our progress. We also continue to support the financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces. We are committed to funding the Afghan security forces until at least 2020. In addition to the significant US contribution, other NATO Allies and partners will continue to provide almost a billion US dollars each year to the Afghan defence and security forces.
At our meeting today, Minister Bahrami expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation for our continued support. He also made clear the Afghan government’s intention is to make good on its commitments to make key reforms. For good governance, the rule of law, fighting corruption, and protecting the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls. Today, we reaffirmed the importance of finding a lasting, negotiated political solution in Afghanistan. NATO will continue to support a peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. We welcome the Kabul Process initiative launched by President Ghani earlier this year. We urge the government to do all it can to ensure the conditions for peace on the ground. And we urge all regional and international actors to support this process.
Pakistan has a key role to play in ensuring the Taliban find no safe havens. And Afghanistan needs the constructive engagement of all its neighbours. Because peace and stability in Afghanistan means peace and stability in the whole region.
Finally, let me note that the ministers from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar joined us today.
They are seeking to contribute to the Resolute Support Mission.
And their presence was a strong symbol of global support to the government and the people of Afghanistan.
And with that, I am ready to take your questions.