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NATO sets conditions for Afghanistan withdrawal

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned the radical Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan that the withdrawal of Western troops from the country depends on a significant reduction in violence. „We can only do our part of the deal if the Taliban do their part of the deal,“ Stoltenberg said yesterday.

Stoltenberg was referring to the agreement signed between the US government and the Taliban at the weekend in Doha. Despite the agreement, the insurgents attacked Afghan army and police posts yesterday night, killing at least 20 members of the security forces. The U.S. Army then carried out an air raid on Taliban fighters.

Important, but only the first step

Stoltenberg described the current situation in Afghanistan as „very difficult“. The Taliban would have to fulfill its obligations under the Doha Agreement. „We have to see a decrease in violence,“ said Stoltenberg in the AFP interview that was held on the sidelines of a meeting of EU Defense Ministers in Zagreb.

The Doha agreement is an „important first step, but it is only a first step,“ said the NATO Secretary General. The road to peace in Afghanistan will be „long and difficult“, „and we must be prepared for disappointments“. But there is “no alternative” in the search for a peaceful solution to negotiations with the Taliban.

US deduction within 14 months

The Doha agreement is intended to pave the way for lasting peace and the withdrawal of US troops from the country. It provides that the United States will initially reduce its troop strength in Afghanistan. All US soldiers and their NATO allies are to withdraw within 14 months.

In return, the Taliban are said to provide guarantees that they will fight the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Islamic State (IS) jihadist militia, and that peace negotiations with the government in Kabul will begin.

Because of the latest Taliban attacks, the start of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which is actually scheduled for Tuesday, is increasingly being questioned.