Warsaw, July 9 (IANS) The leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) agreed on Saturday to formally maintain 12,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2017.
The troops are part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces fighting the Taliban, Efe news reported.
“We will maintain a military presence and continue funding Afghan security forces,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to journalists at the Warsaw summit, adding that they are “committed” and “ready to stay”, but that it is a strictly non-combat mission.
Stoltenberg acknowledged that there is “some presence” of the Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan, including several Taliban groups who pledged their allegiance to the group, but insisted that the most important thing was to “continue to strengthen the Afghans”.
“It is going to continue to be a challenging situation in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that “there is no reason to believe all the problems in Afghanistan will be solved, that is why we will continue to support them.”
In addition to their role in the Resolute Support Mission, US forces will also be continuing their counter-terrorism efforts.
US President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday that at the end of his presidency, 8,400 of the current 9,800 US troops present in Afghanistan are due to remain.