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NATO Will Not Pull Troops From Afghanistan ‘Before Time Right’

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. John Thys—AFP

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Taliban have not yet delivered on their commitments to break ties with international terrorist groups

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said the military alliance will not pull its troops from Afghanistan “before the time is right.”

“While no ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right,” he told a press conference in Brussels. “Ministers will continue to assess the situation on the ground and monitor developments very closely,” he added.

Stoltenberg’s statement comes ahead of a ministerial meeting of member states that is slated to decide the fate of the 9,600 troops deployed in Afghanistan in light of the deal struck between former U.S. president Donald Trump and the Afghan Taliban. Under the deal, all foreign troops must leave Afghanistan by May.

The incumbent administration of Joe Biden has said that it is reviewing the deal. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has accused the Taliban of not fulfilling promises that include reducing attacks and cutting ties to insurgent groups like Al Qaeda.

If Biden does not stick to the May deadline, there is great risk of backlash from the Taliban.

In recent months, NATO states have urged the U.S. to foster greater cooperation with them—especially following Trump’s unilateral decision to reduce U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan to 2,500; the lowest figure since the start of the war in 2001.

Despite the deal, Taliban violence has shown no signs of abating and peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghanistan government have repeatedly stalled.

“The Taliban must reduce violence, negotiate in good faith and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with national terrorist groups,” Stoltenberg said. “Our common goal is clear. Afghanistan should never again serve as a haven for terrorists to attack our homelands,” he added.

The NATO chief stressed that the Taliban had not yet delivered on all their commitments to break ties with international terrorists.

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