NATO will not withdraw troops from Afghanistan before 'time is right', says Stoltenberg

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Feb 15, 2021, 09:59 PM(IST)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers council at the alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 15, 2021 Photograph:( Reuters )

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The Secretary-General of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said that the alliance does not intend to withdraw troops from Afghanistan "before the time is right"

The Secretary-General of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said that the alliance does not intend to withdraw troops from Afghanistan "before the time is right".

On Wednesday and Thursday, ministers of the 30 NATO member states are expected to conduct high-level talks, marking the first such event after Joe Biden took charge as US President.

The top agenda during the conference will ascertain the fate of the mission in Afghanistan, where 9,600 troops are stationed. Former US President Donald Trump had struck a deal with the Taliban, urging them to withdraw troops.

Whether the troops will continue to operate in Afghanistan depends on Biden's rejection or acceptance of the May deadline which requires pulling out all foreign forces.

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"While no ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right," Stoltenberg said during a media conference. 

"Ministers will continue to assess the situation on the ground and monitor developments very closely", Stoltenberg added.

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US President Biden's administration claims that it is currently reviewing the deal. The Pentagon has also accused the Taliban of failing to fulfil its promises, which include reduction of attacks and severing ties with groups like Al-Qaeda. Even then, no concrete announcement on the future of deployment is expected this week.

Allies within NATO want the US to consult them more closely, fearing further cut-offs after Trump cut US troops in January. In the last few months, Taliban violence had increased in the country, and NATO ministers have been warned against seeking a "continuation of occupation and war".

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