Stoltenberg says NATO troops at 12,000, reduction remains conditions based

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that current troop levels in the country were at around 12,000 and any further adjustments remain conditions-based.

Speaking ahead of the alliance’s defense ministers meeting which starts on Thursday, he said one of the topics that will come under scrutiny will be the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

He said on Friday, the ministers will focus on NATO’s training missions, including that in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan, NATO has around 12,000 troops in the alliance’s biggest mission. As part of the peace process, we have adjusted our presence. Any further adjustments remain conditions-based,” he said.

“The Taliban must live up to their commitments, significantly reduce the levels of violence, and pave the way for a ceasefire.

“They must break all ties with Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups. And they must negotiate in good faith,” he said.

Stoltenberg reiterated that the talks in Doha offer the best chance for peace in a generation.

“They must preserve the gains made at such high price over the last two decades, including for women and girls.”

He also said NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stated allies and partners had renewed their commitment to provide financial support to the Afghan forces through 2024.