Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 8th, 2020

NATO Doesn’t Want to be in Afghanistan Forever

NATO Doesn’t Want to be in  Afghanistan Forever

KABUL - A veteran NATO diplomat says Kabul’s concerns at increasing Taliban-linked violence and its refusal to free the rebel group’s remaining prisoners are valid.
In an interview with an Afghan news channel, NATO’s senior civilian representative believed major progress had been achieved towards intra-Afghan negotiations.
Stefano Pontecorvo said NATO had lent all-out support to US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad’s efforts to bring the Afghan government and the Taliban to the negotiating table.
“I think there is a certain momentum. Both sides have understood that there is no military solution to the conflict. The Afghan people are asking for peace. They will not forget or forgive those who stand in the way of peace.”
He added the conditions were being met except for the level of violence, which remained high. The envoy asked the Taliban to demonstrate their seriousness about peace and creating the conditions for going to the table by reining in violence.
Civilian casualties were absolutely unacceptable, the diplomat remarked, telling the Taliban to prove they were trustworthy as partners for peace.
On prisoner releases, he said: “We call for flexibility on all sides to get to this famous 5,000 number and to 1,000 on the Taliban side. We must never forget that it’s a two-side deal.”
While calling for speeding up the prisoner swap process, Stefano stressed flexibility on both sides and the need to address concerns of the Ashraf Ghani administration.
Stefano said the political agreement between President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah had gone a long way, and that it was in the final stage of implementation.
He hoped the Afghan government would positively respond to people’s consistent calls for peace. For achieving peace, he remarked: “You have to get to the table.”
There was a unanimous consensus, regionally and internationally, that the ultimate goal of peace in Afghanistan was supported by everybody.
He welcomed Foreign Minister Atmar’s initiative to create a forum for regional and international partners. There was consensus at the forum on support for a peaceful agreement between Afghans, an early start to intra-Afghan negotiations and backing of the government’s stance.
In a closing remark, Stefano said NATO did not want to stay in Afghanistan forever and stayed committed to assisting Afghan as long as they needed, “and that will be decided by the Afghan government.” (Pajhwok)