All Allies Support Afghan Peace Process: Stoltenberg

The NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a pre-ministerial press conference on Tuesday that all the members of the alliance are committed to supporting the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s efforts in his talks with the Taliban.

NATO defense ministers will hold a two-day meeting on the alliance’s defense spending as well as Afghanistan among other issues.

“Afghanistan will also be an important point on our agenda. With a meeting of all nations contributing to our training mission. While the security situation remains serious, we see a unique opportunity for peace. Allies fully support US efforts to reach a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. And our continued commitment, both with forces and funding, is key to creating the conditions for peace,” Stoltenberg said.

Pointing to the new round of US-Taliban talks which will kick off on June 29, Stoltenberg said all NATO members have been kept updated about the ongoing peace efforts by the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad.

“We are strongly supportive of the peace efforts and all allies support them and we are in close to consultations with the US chief negotiator Ambassador [Zalmay] Khalilzad. He has been here several times, consulting and briefing allies and this will also be an issue we discuss at the meeting that starts tomorrow [Wednesday]. Allies are committed to support peace process,” he said.

The NATO chief meanwhile condemned threats against journalists by militants in Afghanistan.

“We strongly condemn any threat against any journalist because it is absolutely fundamental democratic right to have freedom of press for journalists to work, to do their work and to report and write about what they want and the way they want,” he said.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador in NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, accused Iran of sending terrorists to Afghanistan and said that Iran has not played a significant role in the Afghan peace process so far.

“Will Iran be positive? We don’t know. They have not been helpful so far, but we do hope that that will change,” she said.

Acting Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid will attend the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

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