NATO has reiterated its pledge to support Afghanistan and the political resolution of hostilities in the country, Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, said on Friday.
On Thursday, the official met with Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation. According to Pontecorvo, they held fruitful discussions “on the new chapter in the relationship between Afghanistan and NATO.”
“We agreed on the importance of a political settlement & on the need for a united Republic front to act in the interest of peace and for the benefit of all Afghans,” the official was quoted as saying by the regional alliance office in a tweet.
Last week, the alliance declared that member states were scheduled to begin an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, planning to complete it within a few months. The US intends to complete the pullout by September 11.
In the meantime, Afghanistan is still witnessing clashes between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan military despite the launch of peace talks between the movement and Kabul in Qatar’s Doha last September. The Afghan military continues to regularly report on its special operations against the movement.
New American Bases
The US will explore possible basing options in the countries neighboring Afghanistan to support future counter-terrorist operations, US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said during the press briefing.
“If you’re talking about Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, we have no significant basing agreements with any of those countries around,” McKenzie said Thursday. “I know our diplomats will work and we will examine what the art of the possible is. That would be ultimately a decision made at the national level by the United States if we were to seek to base rights in those countries.”
At the same, the US has good basic and overflight rights with the Gulf partners though it is further from Afghanistan than in the case with the countries bordering on it, McKenzie noted.
McKenzie also added that there are some other options “on the table” that will be examined and the best combination of basing options to support future counter-terrorist contingency operations.
Earlier in April, President Joe Biden announced that US forces will start their gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan on May 1 to complete the pull-out by September 11.
Pakistan Must Stay-Out
Earlier, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on Pakistan on Thursday to stay out of his country and rein in the Taliban to ensure an orderly departure of NATO forces next month.
Speaking during a visit to the restive southern province of Kandahar, Ghani said that Afghanistan wanted to see NATO forces out with dignity.
He said that Pakistan, which Afghanistan and the United States blame for giving a safe haven to the radical insurgency, should use its leverage to force the Taliban back into peace talks.
NATO announced last week that member states will start an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, planning to complete it within a few months. The US intends to complete the pullout by September 11.