NATO deems decision on troop withdrawal a dilemma

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KABUL: The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday acknowledged the military coalition in Afghanistan was faced with a puzzling dilemma over the troops’ future in the country.


“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,” Stoltenberg said. 


“Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a coordinated and deliberate way,” he stated. 


NATO and its troops in Afghanistan had invested a lot in training Afghan security and the withdrawal, according to him, was a gradual reduction.  


Stoltenberg emphasized that training, assisting and advising Afghan security forces was the best way to stabilize Afghanistan.


However, he said the main issue worrying him was the US-Taliban agreement because it stressed that all international troops, including NATO, should be out of Afghanistan by May 1.


“That’s the reason why we are now faced with a very clear decision, a very difficult choice to be made, which actually represents a dilemma for all of us. And that is either to stay because we assess that Taliban is not living up to their part of the agreement, not delivering on their promises, but then, of course, risk continued fighting, long-term continued military involvement in Afghanistan; or to leave, but then risk jeopardizing the gains we have made in fighting international terrorism and preventing Afghanistan from being a platform for launching attacks against our countries.”