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Stoltenberg: NATO foreign ministers to discuss lessons learned in Afghanistan

Outlining the priorities to be discussed at the upcoming NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Riga, Latvia, from Tuesday, Stoltenberg said: “Following the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and armed forces in Afghanistan in August, I launched a comprehensive assessment of our engagement.”

He said NATO went into Afghanistan “to prevent terrorists from using the country again to attack us.

“And since 9/11, there has been no terrorist attack against our countries from Afghanistan.

“But we must recognize that over the years, the international community set a level of ambition that went well beyond the original aim of fighting terrorism.

“And on that, we were not able to deliver. Despite our sacrifice and considerable investment,” he said adding that he expects ministers to discuss this and to “identify the right lessons for our future crisis management operations”.

Stoltenberg also noted that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan “is dire, dire, and very difficult and this is of course of great concern for all of us. And winter is coming. And we know that many people are at risk of suffering and having a very difficult time throughout the winter.”

He said he welcomed moves by NATO Allies to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which he said was “extremely important and something which demonstrates the will, and the commitment, of NATO Allies to continue to support the people of Afghanistan.”

He also touched on Pakistan and said: “NATO has had regular contacts with Pakistan for many, many years. Of course, not least discussing the situation in Afghanistan. We have political contacts, we have regular military contacts and dialogue and I think this is important that this continues because there are still many challenges in the region, especially related to the future of Afghanistan.”

Stoltenberg also said the ministers will address the continuing build-up of Russian forces in and around Ukraine, saying: “It raises tensions and it risks miscalculation. Russia must show transparency, reduce tensions and de-escalate. NATO’s approach to Russia remains unchanged. We keep our defense and deterrence strong while remaining open for dialogue.”

NATO Foreign Ministers will also address the migrant “situation on the border with Belarus and the Lukashenko regime’s exploitation of vulnerable people”.

Other issues that will be discussed include NATO’s next Strategic Concept. He said: “It needs to take account of new realities, including Russia’s aggressive actions, a more assertive China, emerging and disruptive technologies, and the security impact of climate change. It will drive our continued adaptation in a more competitive world.”