Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday preceding a NATO meeting of defense ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO will continue to adjust its presence to support the peace process, but the Taliban must live up to its commitments, reduce violence, break all bonds with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and engage in the intra-Afghan talks in “good faith.”
Stoltenberg also said that NATO has seen important steps taken regarding the prisoner release and in other areas relevant to the slow-moving Afghan peace process.
“We have seen the agreement between US and the Taliban, we have seen some important steps have been taken regarding prisoners release and we have seen some reduction in violence and we also seen a clear commitment from the Taliban to break all ties with the Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups,” Stoltenberg said.
He also said that NATO will continue to support peace efforts in Afghanistan. “We continue to support peace efforts; we strongly believe that it has to be an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process,” Stoltenberg said.
Meanwhile, on Monday the three nations of Afghanistan, Russia and the US– in a trilateral meeting– stated that they “expect that an initial meeting between the negotiating teams must be held immediately to agree on agenda and next steps,” Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said in a statement.
The trilateral meeting of Afghanistan, Russia and the US was held via video tele-conference on Monday with the participation of the Special Presidential Envoy of the Russian Federation for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, the US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister, Hanif Atmar. All three reiterated their strong commitment to an Afghan-owned peace process and support for safeguarding Afghanistan’s achievements over the past 19 years.