NATO chief calls on Russia to support peace process in Afghanistan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on May 24 reiterated the organization’s commitment to Afghanistan but also called on Russia to support an Afghan-led peace process, Afghanistan’s TOLOnews agency reported.

Stoltenberg was speaking at a press conference on the eve of the May 25 NATO summit in Brussels, at which leaders of NATO countries are expected to discuss the fight against terrorism and the alliance’s defense spending.

Answering a TOLOnews question on Russia’s recent contact with the Taliban, Stoltenberg said, “The aim is to reconcile and find a negotiated solution. And this has to be an Afghan-led peace process. We have seen reports (of Russia’s contact with the Taliban), but haven’t seen any proof of direct support to the Taliban from Russia.”

Asked what he expects from an increase in troops in Afghanistan, especially with Daesh being so strong in the country and the fact that they are not necessarily directly related to Daesh in the Middle East, Stoltenberg said the situation in Afghanistan today is very different to that a few years ago.

He said NATO and the US have been able to build up a strong Afghan national army and security force.

The security forces “have proven capable and professional and have proven able to fight the many different types of terrorist groups, including ISIS (Daesh) in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We have also transformed our approach to fighting terrorism. In Afghanistan, we have moved from a combat role to a training role. This has shown us the value of supporting local forces in their fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA