Corruption remains Afghanistan’s big problem: Stoltenberg
Jens Stoltenberg, who arrived on Tuesday in Kabul for a two-day visit, told a group of Afghan and foreign journalists that his visit was aimed at discussing a NATO summit in the Polish capital Warsaw in July with the Afghan leaders and inviting them to attend the important gathering of NATO leaders.
He said Afghanistan would be an important agenda of the Warsaw summit in which the alliance’s ongoing Resolute Support mission, financial support for the Afghan forces and continued political cooperation and partnership with Afghanistan would be discussed.
Jens Stoltenberg said the current number of NATO troops would remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2016, but no decision on troops’ level beyond that period had been taken so far.
NATO and the United States maintain some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly engaged in training and support for Afghan forces besides maintaining an anti-terrorism mandate.
The NATO secretary general said administrative corruption remained a big problem of Afghanistan and he had discussed the scourge with the Afghan leaders.
He said the fight against corruption was a must and he yesterday talked to President Ghani, CEO Abdullah and the acting defence minister in detail about the issue. “Besides the anti-corruption fight, we want progress in every field. We should see how much work is done, progress in every field is important for Afghanistan.”
Stoltenberg said NATO’s members and allies had to provide information to their peoples about progress and development in Afghanistan because all the assistance Afghanistan received was taxpayers’ money.
He said the fight against corruption in Afghanistan was not a demand of NATO but the European Union, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund had the same demand. The NATO chief said the Afghan leaders had promised him a tough fight against corruption.
He said NATO’s cooperation with Afghanistan was not only in the interest of the Afghans, but it was also in the interest of the alliance and the international community.
“We want to strengthen the Afghan security forces so they can effective fight local and foreign terrorists and to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.”
Stoltenberg said they wanted the Afghan government to initiate reforms in the electoral system, good governance and other spheres. He said Afghanistan had achieved progress in many sectors, including health, education and security forces.
He said few years ago Afghanistan had a small security force, but now the country had a strong force which was defending the country and leading all operations against militants.
However, he said they still had a long journey ahead to have complete security, stability and peace in Afghanistan, a journey they must cover. He said NATO would work jointly with the Afghan government to do away with threats and problems.
To a question about a recent surge in violence in Afghanistan, the NATO chief said such problems existed in other war-affected countries. “That’s why we are here to train Afghan forces, give them advices and resolve all problems through long-term cooperation.”
He said they had learnt from the NATO mission in Afghanistan that instead of keeping foreign troops, the Afghan forces should be strengthened.
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