NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s new “conditions-based” approach to Afghanistan was “welcome.”
“NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan and I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with [U.S. Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis and our allies and international partners,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
On Monday night, Trump announced that the U.S. will maintain its military presence in Afghanistan based on certain “conditions” being met, and did not specify a timeline for withdrawal. He also accused Pakistan of providing a “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”
In a subtle nod to Trump’s take on Pakistan, Stoltenberg said: “We urge all countries in the region to do their utmost to shut down sanctuaries for extremist groups, support peace and reconciliation, and contribute to a stable and secure Afghanistan.”
In a statement, U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the U.S.’s commitment was “very welcome,” but did not announce any additional troop increase.
The military alliance has around 13,000 troops currently in Afghanistan, of which 585 are British.
“Our aim remains to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries,” Stoltenberg said.
The U.S. and NATO have been in Afghanistan since 2001 when then President George W. Bush invoked Article 5 of the NATO charter, compelling members of the military alliance to join the U.S.’s efforts to topple the Taliban regime, which it claimed harbored the planners of the September 11 terror attacks.