The future force level of NATO troops depends on the outcome of Afghan talks - NATO chief | Eurasia Diary -

23 May, Thursday

The future force level of NATO troops depends on the outcome of Afghan talks - NATO chief

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The future of NATO’s 15-year-long military operation in Afghanistan will depend on the outcome of peace talks involving Taliban insurgents, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday, after a US envoy reported important progress from the latest round of negotiations.

The longest direct talks ever held between the United States and the Taliban concluded this week. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the sides reached “draft agreements” covering the withdrawal of US troops and guarantees that Afghanistan would not become a haven for terrorists once a settlement is found.

The United States has around 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. Around half of them carry out counter-terror operations while others lead NATO’s military training and mentoring mission.

US President Donald Trump has said that about 7,000 US troops would leave, but it’s unclear which ones would stay. Most of NATO’s European allies depend on US air and logistical support to carry out their mission.

“The future force level of NATO troops is very much dependent of course on the outcome of those talks,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, but he underlined that the negotiations are far from over.

“It’s too early to pre-empt the outcome of the talks,” Stoltenberg said. “There’s still much to be done before a peace deal is in place.”

Whatever the outcome of the peace talks, Stoltenberg said: “We went in together, and we will make future decisions on our posture together.”

Arab News

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