NATO Chief Says Afghanistan Troop Pullout Depends on Taliban
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday the withdrawal of allied troops from war-torn Afghanistan will be “condition-based.”
At a virtual meeting with NATO leaders, Stoltenberg said the Taliban must “meet the conditions” by reducing violence and ending their support for “international terror groups like al Qaida.”
NATO defense ministers are meeting virtually for a two-day conference to discuss a variety of issues confronting the alliance. Detailed discussions about the status of 2,500 U.S. troops and another 7,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan are expected to take place Thursday.
The Taliban warned NATO in a statement on Saturday against seeking a “continuation of war” that they say does not serve the interests of any of the parties involved in the nearly 20-year conflict.
“Anyone seeking extension of wars and occupation will be held liable for it just like the previous two decades,” the statement said.
Before Wednesday’s meeting, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warned that peace talks have not progressed enough to allow a withdrawal of NATO troops.
“This means we will have to prepare for a changing security situation and a rising threat to both international troops and our own soldiers,” she said in a statement.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump agreed with the Taliban last year that U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for meeting conditions that included severing relations with al-Qaida and opening peace talks with the Afghan government.
U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration would review the deal, with the Pentagon accusing the Taliban of failing to meet its commitment to reduce violence.
VOA’s Jeff Seldin contributed to this story.