BRUSSELS (Pajhwok): NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said the alliance expected all regional powers, including Russia and Iran, to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and play a constructive role.
Speaking ahead of a two-day NATO foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels that began on Tuesday, Stoltenberg said NATO strongly supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
He said they also welcomed President Ashraf Ghani’s peace initiative his offer to sit down with the Taliban for unconditional peace talks.
“NATO is there to create a foundation for a political solution because we train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces, armed forces, to send a clear message to the Taliban that they will never win on the battlefield.”
The NATO chief said the only solution to Afghan conflict was to sit down at the negotiating table and engage in a real peace negotiation.
“And of course we expect all powers, countries in the region, including Russia and Iran, to support this Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and play a constructive role.”
When asked about Afghans concerns regarding achievements they gained over the last 16 years might be compromised, Stoltenberg said they strongly believed in a political settlement and a peace process which was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
“And therefore it’s not for NATO to set specific red lines. It’s for those sitting around the negotiating table. But we support the Afghans.”
“We also welcome the progress we have seen in Afghanistan’s rights, democracy. And we continue to provide support to the Afghan government to modernise its institutions and strengthen its democratic processes.”
The NATO’s Foreign Ministers meeting today and tomorrow will address a wide range of issues of importance for their shared security, including Russia’s destabilizing behavior.
The NATO chief asked Russia to release Ukrainian vessels, ships and sailors Moscow seized from Ukraine.
“We are also concerned about the new Russia missile system which puts the INF Treaty in jeopardy. It’s urgent that Russia ensures full compliance in a transparent and verifiable way because the INF Treaty is so important for our security.”