NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commented on the alliance’s plans in Afghanistan after President Trump declared on Twitter that US troops will be home from the country by Christmas. Stoltenberg insisted that NATO members will consult with each other and decide together when to leave Afghanistan.
“We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Stoltenberg said on Thursday. The NATO chief also hinted at a longer presence in Afghanistan, saying the alliance is “committed” to the country’s future.
“We will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground, because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan, because it is in our interest to preserve the long term security of Afghanistan,” he said.
Trump’s declaration took people by surprise, and it is not yet clear if the US military will work to meet the Christmas deadline. Earlier on Wednesday, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the US will drawdown to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan by early 2021.
The withdrawal of US troops is scheduled to be completed by April or May 2021 as per the US-Taliban peace deal. The agreement calls for a complete withdrawal of all “foreign forces,” including NATO troops.