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Afghanistan crisis: NATO commits to center efforts on evacuations from Kabul

NATO headquarters has blamed a failure of Afghan leadership for the swift collapse of the country's Western-backed armed forces.  

AP AP
Brussels Published on: August 20, 2021 23:53 IST
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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, center, speaks during a NATO Foreign Ministers video meeting following developments in Afghanistan at the NATO headquarters in Brussels

NATO foreign ministers on Friday committed to focusing on ensuring the safe evacuation from Afghanistan of their citizens and of Afghans deemed at risk after the country's takeover by the Taliban.

They also insisted that the new rulers in Kabul would have to make sure that the nation does not become a center for terrorism.

“Any future Afghan government must adhere to Afghanistan's international obligations … and ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists,” a statement from the alliance said.

Foreign ministers from the 30-nation alliance met in a videoconference to assess the chaotic situation in Afghanistan and coordinate efforts to extract their nationals and key local staff from the country.

Some allies called on the United States to secure Kabul airport for as long as it takes, even if that stretches beyond the evacuation of all US nationals.

Many allied nations are sending planes to Kabul to get as many people out as soon as possible.

Friday's joint statement said that “as long as evacuation operations continue, we will maintain our close operational cooperation through Allied military means” at the airport.

“Our immediate task now is to meet our commitment to continue the safe evacuation of our citizens, partner country nationals, and at-risk Afghans, in particular those who have assisted our efforts,” the statement said.

NATO has been leading international security operations in Afghanistan since 2003 but wound up combat operations in 2014 to focus on training the country's national security forces. NATO helped build up an army of some 300,000, but that force withered under the Taliban offensive in just days.

NATO headquarters has blamed a failure of Afghan leadership for the swift collapse of the country's Western-backed armed forces.

A year ago, NATO's “Resolute Support Mission” to train Afghan security forces involved around 10,000 personnel from 36 member and partner countries. Last Sunday, there were no troops under NATO command in Afghanistan. 

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