NATO Chief Warns of Hard Road to Afghan Peace as Violence Soars

Western forces will only leave Afghanistan if the Taliban make good on their commitment to reduce bloodshed, the head of NATO warned, as attacks surge.

The militants have ramped up violence against Afghan forces since signing a deal with Washington at the weekend, casting doubt over peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban, due to begin on March 10.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told AFP that a “long and hard” road to peace lay ahead but warned the Taliban that if they reneged on the agreement, foreign forces would not leave.

“It is a very difficult situation and Taliban must honour their commitment. We need to see reduction in violence,” Stoltenberg told AFP in an interview in Zagreb, where he attended a meeting of EU defence ministers.

“We can only deliver our side of the deal if Taliban deliver their side of the deal.”

“The agreement that was signed on Saturday was an important first step, but it’s only a first step,” said Stoltenberg, who as prime minister of Norway sent troops to Afghanistan following the US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

5 / March 2020