NATO to back Afghan forces after peace deal: Envoy

BRUSSELS, June 28, 2019 (Xinhua) — U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper attends a press conference after a NATO defense ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 27, 2019. The two-day NATO defense ministers meeting closed on Thursday. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng/IANS)

Kabul, Aug 29 (IANS) NATO Senior Civilian Representative for Afghanistan, Nicolas Kay, said that international forces will remain in Afghanistan even after a peace agreement in order to support the national defence and security forces.

Addressing the Model United Nations meeting in Kabul on Wednesday, Kay said NATO will also help the Afghan government and the country’s election management body in holding the presidential election scheduled for September 28, TOLO News reported.

Kay said there is a need for NATO military presence in Afghanistan until all threats are eliminated from the country.

“Let me assure you very very clearly, NATO is not leaving, NATO is committed to staying and supporting Afghan national defence and security forces,” the envoy said.

While Washington’s peace efforts with the Taliban have raised scepticisms on whether the Afghan presidential election will be held in the specific timeline, the NATO envoy said the alliance will fully support Afghans to conduct the polls.

“Let me be clear on the NATO position, our NATO task is to support the security for the elections, and we are supporting Afghan national security and defense forces prepare for elections on the 28 of September,” he said.

He also said that the alliance will work together with Afghans to protect the gains the country has made in its strides towards democracy such as human rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, strengthening of the role of women and the youths in the peace process.

Kay’s comments come on the same day the Taliban said they were close to reach an agreement with the US as the two sides continued their negotiations in Qatar on peace in Afghanistan.

US officials and leaders of Afghan Taliban are currently holding the ninth round of peace talks in the Qatari capital.

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