NATO reiterates support to Afghanistan

Kabul, March 15 (IANS) Visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday reiterated the military alliance’s support to Afghanistan.

Addressing a press conference jointly with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Stoltenberg said that NATO would continue to support Afghan security forces within the framework of the Resolute Support (RS) mission to eliminate terrorism.

However, he laid emphasis on bringing reforms, saying that NATO, besides encouraging the work of the national unity government, believes that Afghanistan’s long-term success requires further reforms.

“It means stepping up Afghan investment in the security forces. And it also means ensuring that human rights, including for women and children, are fully respected,” NATO’s chief said.

The NATO Secretary General’s visit to Afghanistan took place amid increasing militancy as both the Taliban insurgents and Islamic State (IS) militants have intensified attacks over the past couple of months, especially in the countryside.

The top NATO official who met Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah earlier in the day, admitted at the conference that 2015 was a difficult year for Afghan forces.

He added that the Afghan security forces were standing strong to protect the Afghan people as they took full charge of security across their country despite significant challenges.

Since January 1 last year, Afghan security forces have assumed the full security charge from NATO and the US forces after the foreign troops switched mission from combat to support role, which focuses on training, advising and assisting the Afghan national security forces.

Nearly 13,000 foreign forces are currently stationed in the militancy-hit Afghanistan within the framework of the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission to help Afghan forces with training and advise.

Nevertheless, Stoltenberg added that NATO would continue to provide financial support to the Afghan forces.

On his part, President Ghani thanked NATO for its support to Afghanistan and stated that the government was committed to fighting corruption and bringing reforms.

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