NATO FMs to discuss Afghanistan developments and ties with Russia and China

November 30, 2020
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seen in this file photo.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seen in this file photo.

BRUSSELS — NATO foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday via video conference to address key issues including Russia's military build-up, the rise of China, and the situation in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday.

Speaking at an online press conference Monday, he said, "We see an historic opportunity for peace in Afghanistan. It is fragile, but it must be seized."

Noting that the United States recently decided to further reduce its troop numbers in Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said NATO's training mission Resolute Support continues with over half of the forces from European Allies and partner nations.

He said NATO currently has around 11,000 troops in Afghanistan and in the months ahead the Alliance will continue to assess its presence based on conditions on the ground.

"We face a difficult dilemma. Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence," he stated.

Stoltenberg said NATO defense ministers during their meeting next February would take a decision on this matter.

Further, NATO foreign ministers will during the 2-day meeting also address Russia's military build-up around the 30-member Alliance.

"Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal and fielding new missiles. It is deploying more forces in our neighborhood, from the High North to Syria and Libya," he said.

"We also see an increased Russian presence as a result of the crises in Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh. So, ministers will discuss what more we should do to respond to Russia's growing military activity," said Stoltenberg.

The ministers will also assess the global shift in the balance of power with the rise of China.

"China is not our adversary. Its rise presents an important opportunity for our economies and trade. But there are also important challenges to our security.

“China is investing massively in new weapons. It is coming closer to us, from the Arctic to Africa. And by investing in our infrastructure," said the NATO chief.

"China does not share our values. It does not respect fundamental human rights and tries to intimidate other countries. We must address this together, both as NATO Allies, and as a community of like-minded countries," he added. — KUNA

November 30, 2020
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