No decision taken on troops withdrawal after 2-day NATO summit

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday evening that no decision on troops withdrawal has yet been made by the Alliance and its partner nations.

Addressing a virtual press conference after a two day NATO Defense Ministers meeting, Stoltenberg said the Alliance has not yet made the decision because it feels there is still a chance for peace in Afghanistan.

He said however that the decision itself – on whether to withdraw all troops by May 1 as per the US-Taliban deal signed last year – or whether to stay in the country was a very difficult one.

He said the Alliance faces a difficult dilemma over Afghanistan adding that if NATO stays after May 1 they risk attacks on their troops but if they leave they risk the gains made over the past 20 years.

Stoltenberg again reiterated that the withdrawal of all troops was conditions based and in reference to the Taliban’s planned Spring Offensive, Stoltenberg said the Alliance was hoping for a significant decrease in violence opposed to an increase as feared by many in Afghanistan.

NATO’s chief did however point out that current peace talks are “fragile” and that currently no progress is being made.

Despite this he said NATO believes “there is still time to reach a political agreement before the deadline of 1st of May.”

Stoltenberg said the peace process needs to be reenergized and that the Taliban needs to negotiate in good faith, violence levels need to be reduced and Taliban must cut all ties with terrorist groups.

He also stated NATO is closely monitoring the situation on the ground and there is an ongoing assessment and monitoring of the situation. He says based on this a decision will be made by the Alliance.