Rest of Asia

NATO ministers call for end to Taliban violence

Filed on August 20, 2021
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, talks to Chair of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photo: AP

Foreign ministers to centre efforts on evacuation of citizens and Afghans from Kabul.

NATO foreign ministers on Friday committed to focus on ensuring the safe evacuation from Afghanistan of their citizens and of Afghans deemed at risk after the country’s takeover by the Taliban.

During a virtual meeting, the ministers expressed concern over the “grave events" in Afghanistan and called for “an immediate end to violence" amid reports of Taliban atrocities and “serious human rights violations and abuses across Afghanistan."

“Any future Afghan government must adhere to Afghanistan’s international obligations,” a statement from the alliance said.

Foreign ministers from the 30-nation alliance met in a video conference to assess the chaotic situation in Afghanistan and coordinate efforts to extract their nationals and key local staff from the country.

Some allies called on the United States to secure Kabul airport for as long as it takes, even if that stretches beyond the evacuation of all US nationals. Many allied nations are sending planes to Kabul to get as many people out as soon as possible.

Friday’s joint statement said that “as long as evacuation operations continue, we will maintain our close operational cooperation through Allied military means” at the airport.

“Our immediate task now is to meet our commitment to continue the safe evacuation of our citizens, partner country nationals, and at-risk Afghans, in particular those who have assisted our efforts,” the statement said.

NATO has been leading international security operations in Afghanistan since 2003 but wound up combat operations in 2014 to focus on training the country’s national security forces. NATO helped build up an army of some 300,000, but that force withered under the Taliban offensive in just days.

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