Ghani, NATO exchange views on Afghanistan

Kabul, Oct 23 (IANS) Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg exchanged views on the situation and the alliance’s cooperation with the conflict-ridden country, the presidential palace said on Friday.

While assuring the alliance’s continued support for Afghanistan, the NATO chief said that following the recent US decision to maintain the level of troops in Afghanistan, more NATO-member states would follow the step to continue their military support within the framework of NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the wake of increasing militancy and the brief capture of Kunduz city by Taliban late in September, US President Barack Obama said last week Washington’s plans to keep 5,500 US troops in Afghanistan into 2017 and to maintain the current 9,800 forces throughout most of next year.

Obama had previously planned to reduce the current level of troops in Afghanistan to around 5,500 by the end of 2015 and withdraw all troops by the end of 2016 when his presidency comes to an end, leaving only about 1,000 soldiers to provide security for US diplomatic mission in the country.

Germany and Turkey have welcomed the US decision and announced to keep troops in Afghanistan within the framework of NATO-led RS mission.

Ghani, during the telephone conversation, said Afghanistan attaches great importance to its relations with NATO, stressing that NATO’s cooperation is significant in strengthening his country’s security forces capability.

During the talks, both sides agreed that Afghanistan sends a high ranking delegation to Brussels to explain the Afghan government’s reforms and development programmes with regard to defence and security.

NATO member states will discuss the modality of alliance cooperation with Afghanistan in its conference on December 2 in Brussels, the statement added.

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