The German foreign minister has called on the NATO alliance to carefully consider the impact that further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan would have on the peace process, warning against reckless actions.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members must be cautious not to jeopardize the peace process in Afghanistan by withdrawing troops prematurely.
“As NATO partners, we want to ensure that we tie further troop reductions in Afghanistan to clear conditions,” he said.
Maas was speaking ahead of a virtual meeting with his NATO colleagues in which troop drawdowns in Afghanistan will be high on the agenda.
“To safeguard what we have reached so far, we must not take any rash actions,” the foreign minister noted.
“This is why we call on the alliance to have a very close look at how far the conditions for a further withdrawal have been met to avoid sending a wrong message regarding the peace process.”
Maas also stressed the importance of continued US support for NATO operations in Afghanistan following outgoing President Donald Trump’s decision to accelerate the withdrawal of American soldiers.
He added that the presence of US troops was important in guaranteeing the security of German soldiers remaining in Afghanistan.
Trump has planned to cut troop numbers in the war-torn state from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.
The remaining 11,000 NATO personnel in Afghanistan are heavily reliant on the US military, particularly around air support and logistics capabilities.
Tuesday marks the start of a two-day video conference between 30 foreign ministers in the NATO alliance.
In addition to operations in Afghanistan, the ministers will review a number of proposals for the organization’s reform, partially in light of China’s rise as a global superpower.
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