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New US strategy in line with NATO policy: envoy

New US strategy in line with NATO policy: envoy

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On
Sep 05, 2017 - 17:33

KABUL (Pajhwok): NATO’s senior civilian representative (SCR) in Afghanistan has urged all regional actors to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability and “do their utmost to shut down sanctuaries for extremist groups.” 

Ambassador Cornelius Zimmermann welcomed the new US policy on Afghanistan and South Asia in an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News on Tuesday.

The SCR said the new US policy demonstrated its clear long-term commitment to Afghanistan. “This is very much in line with NATO’s policy.”

The NATO official said the western military alliance remained fully committed to supporting Afghanistan.

“NATO allies and partners already reaffirmed at the Defence Ministerial meeting in June the decision to sustain Resolute Support beyond 2017.”

“We will continue to support the Afghan security forces in their ongoing efforts to protect all Afghans and ensure lasting security in Afghanistan; in this regard, we place special emphasis on continuing the development of the Afghan Special Forces and the Afghan Air Force.”

He said their approach was ‘conditions-based’ and they would stand by the Afghans as long as NATO’s efforts were matched by the Afghan government.

He said the Afghan authorities committed to implement an ambitious reform process in areas of counter-corruption, human rights, gender equality, the rule of law and good governance at last year’s Warsaw Summit.

“Remarkable progress has been made in these domains, but more remains to be done. The National Unity Government must be and must be seen as the better alternative.”

To a question about most focus on the war and fighting in Afghanistan in the new American strategy instead of a political solution, the NATO representative admitted sustainable peace could not be brought about through military means alone.

“What is needed is an inclusive political settlement. That is why we continue to support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.”

He said peace would not come overnight and the alliance encouraged all Afghans to work towards an inclusive political settlement and a sustainable peace.  

About President Trump’s blaming of Pakistan for supporting terrorists and their sanctuaries, Ambassador Cornelius Zimmermann said they encouraged all regional actors to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability.

“At the same time, we urge them to do their utmost to shut down sanctuaries for extremist groups.” 

He said Afghanistan neighbours’ must understand that peace and stability in Afghanistan is in their own interest.

“They can all benefit from a good relationship with Afghanistan, for instance with increased access to the Afghan market. We should go from a lose-lose situation to a win-win one.”

About NATO’s fresh contribution of troops to the war in Afghanistan under the new US policy, the NATO representative said their allies and partners had already committed to increasing their presence in Afghanistan.

“In recent weeks, more than 15 nations have pledged additional contributions to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. The force generation process is ongoing and we should have more clarity in the coming weeks.”

To a question about opposition to the surge in foreign troop numbers by some Afghan political parties and lawmakers, Ambassador Cornelius Zimmermann said he would enter into the Afghan domestic political commentary.

“Discussion and debate is a healthy sign of democracy. NATO is one of Afghanistan’s most steadfast and committed partners.  NATO allies and partners support the Afghan population by helping build the capacities of the Afghan security forces and has done so for many years.”

He said since January 2015 the Afghan security forces and institutions had full security responsibility, with their bravery and professionalism increasing. “We continue to support them to develop further, so that they can become fully self-sustainable.”

About the impact of the new US strategy on the morale of Afghan and US forces, he said the new US strategy had been widely welcomed in Afghanistan and across the international community.

“It is fully aligned with the commitment to Afghanistan by all NATO allies and partners. Ultimately, it represents a firm step to ensure that the Afghan security forces and institutions continue to make progress and that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists that threatens Afghanistan’s security and the security of our own countries.”

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