Afghan security situation still difficult: NATO chief
KABUL (Pajhwok): NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said the security situation in Afghanistan remained difficult as seen earlier this week in Kabul, referring to a brazen group suicide attack on the country’s parliament.
The coordinated attack on the parliament took place on Monday in Kabul, beginning with a car bombing at the entrance to the lower house building and others tried to enter inside, but they all were killed.
At least two civilians were killed and 28 others were wounded in the attack, which the Afghan spy service claimed an officer of the Pakistan’s premier spy agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) helped the Haqqani network carry out.
Speaking at the second day of a defence ministerial meeting of the alliance member and partner countries in Brussels, Stoltenberg said they commended the professionalism of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
“And we honour their sacrifices. We continue to stand with them and support their future development,” the NATO chief said.
He said the defence ministers would discuss the progress of their Resolute Support mission and also assess the current security and political situation of Afghanistan while looking to the future.
“To how we will evolve the Resolute Support Mission and to how we will continue to support the Afghan Security Forces through capacity building and institutional development.”
He said NATO and its partners and the government of Afghanistan had achieved a great deal together, insisting the future of Afghanistan lied in the hands of the Afghan people. “And we remain committed to supporting them every step of the way.”
He said NATO’s ISAF mission had concluded and Afghanistan had taken full responsibility for its own security. He said the alliance had launched its Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and had continued supporting the financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces.
Stoltenberg continued they had agreed to enhance long-term Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan, including through a civilian-led presence.
The NATO chief also said there was a risk of a return to heavy fighting this summer in eastern Ukraine, blaming Russia.
He said Russia continued to support pro-Moscow separatists "with training, weapons and soldiers and that the Russian military also had stationed "large numbers of forces" on the border with Ukraine.
Russia denies any involvement in the conflict that Stoltenberg said has already cost more than 6,000 lives.
NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels with their Ukrainian counterpart, Stepan Poltorak, to discuss the latest developments and NATO support for Ukraine.
NATO has ruled out supplying weapons to Ukraine, but is helping in other ways. Stoltenberg said there had been recent progress in the areas of helping Ukraine secure its communications and its airspace.
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