Afghanistan needs good ties with neighbours: Lute
KABUL (Pajhwok): US ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute on Thursday said Afghanistan should develop good ties with its neighbouring countries besides ensuring good governance and honouring pledges Kabul had made with the international community.
Lute was talking to Afghan journalists via a video conference from Brussels, where the alliance is headquartered.
Referring to a recent NATO foreign ministerial summit in Antalya, Turkey, the ambassador said foreign ministers from 42 NATO and allied nations had discussed Afghanistan at the two-day meeting, reassuring their cooperation and assistance with Afghanistan.
He said the meeting had insisted on continued cooperation with Afghanistan and that the international community remained committed to supporting the war-torn country.
He also said NATO had made huge investment in Afghanistan over the past more than a decade and the Afghans should benefit from that.
The US envoy said the international community would continue financially supporting Afghan security forces until the end of 2017 and a decision about further assistance beyond that period would be made at next year’s meeting of the heads of NATO member states in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.
However, he stressed the Afghan government should ensure good governance, improve relations with neighbouring countries and meet promises it had held out to the international community.
“The regional geography doesn’t change. Therefore Afghanistan should resolve its problems with neighbours and keep good ties with them.”
To a question from Pajhwok Afghan News if NATO’s new mission after the current training operation would need a new agreement with Afghanistan, the ambassador said: “No. the new mission will be started in light of the SOFA (status of forces agreement) which was signed last year between Afghanistan and NATO.”
At the Turkey summit last week, the western military alliance had announced keeping a presence in Afghanistan after the end of the current Resolute Support mission to train, advice and assist Afghan security forces on December 31, 2016. The new mission would be civilian-led, but will have some troops.
Plans for the new mission are expected to be discussed next month when defence ministers from NATO countries will be meeting.
Lute said if Afghanistan’s future defence minister was endorsed by the Afghan parliament before the defence ministerial meeting, he would also be invited to the upcoming summit.
President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday confirmed Masoom Stanikzai as his nominee for the defence minister.
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