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Full Text of Ariana News’ Exclusive Interview with NATO Secretary General

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2022)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in an exclusive interview with Ariana News in Brussels, elaborated his views on NATO mission and the alliance troop levels in Afghanistan as well as strengthening the capabilities of Afghan national army and security forces.

The following is the full text of Ariana News’ exclusive interview with Stoltenberg:

What is the outcome of NATO leaders meeting, especially in Afghanistan?

We agreed on an action plan on fighting terrorism and warm element of that plan is that we will sustain our military mission in Afghanistan. As we know it is not a combat mission anymore but is a train, assist and advise mission and all allies pledged to continue to support the mission and some allies also announced that they are ready to provide more forces. This about training the Afghan national security forces to stabilize Afghanistan and to fight Taliban and terrorism. NATO provides support both with our trainers but also with funding and economic support the Afghan national army and security forces.

About the increase of troops, is there any exact number that how many troops will be deployed to Afghanistan?

We are not in the process of deciding the exact number of troops. Currently, is around 13,000 troops,… so likely within not so many weeks, we have decisions on the exact troop levels.  Our military commanders have asked for an increase of a few thousand and that is what we are now looking into, but what is clear, is that we will continue to be in Afghanistan and we are also supporting the roadmap of President Ghani and so we have a more multi-air approach to our presence in Afghanistan, and we have also clearly committed to continue over several years to fund Afghan national army and security forces.

NATO to join Ant-IS Coalition, and as you know IS or Daesh is active in Afghanistan as well, What will be the role of NATO in combat against Daesh in Afghanistan?

What NATO does is that we are training, enabling and supporting the Afghan forces to fight terrorist groups in Afghanistan, so have seen that the Afghan forces are very professional, dedicated and have been able to attack  the terrorist groups including ISIS several times and therefore, ISIS has been forced to reduce their presence in Afghanistan, they are controlling less and less or they are present in very small parts of Afghanistan but it is still something we have to take very seriously. That is part of why NATO continue to support the Afghan armed forces and of course the United States is a NATO ally but outside the NATO mission, the United States also conduct counter-terrorism operations in cooperation with the Afghan army.

Afghan air force is still a big shortage, as you know that they are weak and they are not well equipped. Is there any plan for recruiting the Afghan air forces?

Yes, absolutely, one of the reasons why we have decided to sustain our mission and one of  the issue  stood and that is addressed in what we called it the periodic mission review (the review of our mission), is the importance of strengthening the Afghan air forces and we have some good numbers, we have seen an increase number of air planes, helicopters, and pilots. I met some female pilots Afghan trained in the air force when I visited Afghanistan lost time and NATO will focus on what we can do to further strengthen the Afghan air forces which is a key capacity or capability in the fight against the Taliban and the terrorist groups in Afghanistan.  We are also focusing on strengthening further the special operational forces, they have proven extremely valuable and important in Afghanistan, so we are going to help to train and educate more special operational forces that is actually started already and we are also focusing on the leadership, strengthening the military academies to improve command, control and leadership in the Afghan army which includes the fight against terrorism.

There are some reports about corruption, especially in the ANDSF system of Afghanistan, for example ghost police and ghost army. Are you satisfied from the reforms which are underway inside ANDSF in Afghanistan?

It is extremely important to fight corruption and therefore, welcome the very strong commitment by the National Unity Government, by President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to fight corruption and I welcome also the establishment of  anti corruption center which will be an important tool to address the big problem of corruption which we have to fight and address. I also welcome for instance the introduction of biometric identification which will help us really to address this problem of ghost soldiers. Corruption is really really negative for the capacity of Afghan army and of course in long-run undermines the willingness of the international community to provide financial support.

 Last Question is about the local governors in the north of Afghanistan, who are claiming that Russia is supporting the Taliban, is there any evidence with NATO or what is NATO position here?

I have seen media reports of that kind of support but I haven’t seen any evidence. The important thing now is to focus on the peace process on an Afghan-led and Afghan -owned peace process, and I welcome the initiative by President Ghani to host a meeting in the beginning of June which will be an important contribution to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

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IEA claims militants involved in Daikundi clash, and no children killed

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2022)

The Ministry of Interior of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), says nine militants were killed on Thursday at a house in Siyuk area of Shibar district of Daikundi province.

According to IEA officials, one Islamic Emirate soldier was also killed in the clash and two others were wounded. A woman who was in the house at the time was caught in crossfire and wounded in the leg.

Bilal Karimi, the deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, said despite repeated attempts to get the militants to lay down their weapons they failed to do so. As a result, IEA security forces entered the house.

Karimi said all the militants killed had been armed.

According to Karimi, reports of children being killed and other damage incurred are not true.

Latif Nazari, Deputy Minister of Economy, said on Twitter that some elements have emerged that are trying to pit Hazaras against the IEA.

He tweeted that: “Hazaras are too alert to fall into their trap and their external stimuli. Interaction between the people and the emirate will continue.”

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Peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential: Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday highlighted the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan, saying it is essential in terms of threats and risks.

“Peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential in terms of common threats and risks, beyond our humanitarian duty for our Afghan brothers,” Erdogan said in a joint press conference with Pakistan’s prime minister in Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Pakistan will continue to work together to “eliminate the effects of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people.”

The Turkish leader also commented on the situation in Afghanistan as he said establishing “peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential in terms of common threats and risks, beyond our humanitarian duty for our Afghan brothers.”

He said they will continue to work together to “eliminate the effects of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people.”

Erdogan also pointed to the solidarity and mutual cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan and reiterated Ankara’s support for Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts.

“We have always seen Pakistan’s pain as our pain, its joy as our joy and its success as our success,” he said.

For his part, Pakistani PM Shahbaz Sharif proposed extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), inviting Turkey to join the multi-billion-dollar project.

“China and Pakistan are great friends and we are experiencing and enjoying the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative of (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping). I would suggest let this be a cooperation between China, Pakistan, and Türkiye,” Sharif said, calling it a “wonderful joint cooperation.”

Sharif also said such cooperation among the three nations “will bring prosperity and progress in this entire region.”

“This will help the alleviation of poverty and unemployment. This will promote education and this is how we can really meet the challenges of today,” the Pakistani prime minister said.

Sharif said he will be “very happy” to talk to his “Chinese friends.”

“If we can move in this direction, I think, this would be a wonderful opportunity to really capitalise” he added.

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UN, Uzbekistan discuss Int’l Group to negotiate with IEA government

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

Deputy head of UNAMA and Uzbekistan’s foreign minister have discussed implementing an initiative to set up an International Group to negotiate with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

“We discussed situation in Afghanistan, implementing initiative to set up an International Group to negotiate with Afghan government to agree algorithm for the earliest fulfilling of mutual obligations of the parties,” Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov said on Twitter Friday.

Meanwhile, UNAMA said on Friday its deputy head Markus Potzel concluded his series of meetings with government officials in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on additional regional support to the Afghan people.

“UNAMA will continue its work with all regional actors to assist efforts for a meaningful peace in Afghanistan,” UNAMA said on Twitter.

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