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tv   NATO Secretary General Holds Briefing on Afghanistan  CSPAN  August 18, 2021 2:30am-3:11am EDT

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>> nato secretary-general talked about the situation in afghanistan. from earlier today in brussels, this is 40 minutes.
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>> and of the afghans who have helped us. nato has been working around the clock to maintain operations at the kabul international airport. around 800 nato civilian personnel have remained to provide key functions under very challenging circumstances. including air traffic control, fuel and communications. i would like to thank them.
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let me also thank the military forces at in particular turkey, the united states and the united kingdom for a vital role in securing the airport. operations at the airport are now gradually resuming. during today's meeting, allies announced they are sending additional airplanes. we have also maintained our diplomatic presence. our senior representative and his team have been working closely with allies and the rest of the international community to coordinate and facilitate that evacuation. we remain committed to completing migrations as soon as possible. the taliban must respect and
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facilitate the safe departure of all those who wish to leave. the airport as well as roads and border crossings must be open all at men women and children deserve to live in safety and dignity. there must be a peaceful transfer of power to an inclusive government with no revenge or retribution. a government that does not respect the fundamental rights of all afghans and reinstates our reign of fear risks international isolation. the united states agreed with the taliban last year that u.s. troops would withdraw by may. after many rounds of consultations, all allies agreed to follow the u.s. decision.
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ending our military mission was not easy. we were faced with a serious dilemma. either leave and risk seeing the taliban regain control, or stay and risk renewed attacks and an open ended combat mission. we never intended to stay in afghanistan forever. over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of troops went down to less than 10 thousand, now zero. what we have seen in the last few weeks was a military and political collapse at a speed which not have been anticipated. parts of afghan security forces fought bravely, but they were unable to secure the country.
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ultimately, the afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the taliban and to achieve the peaceful solution that afghans desperately wanted. this failure of afghan leadership led to the tragedy we are witnessing today. at the same time, we need to have an honest, clear eyed assessment of nato foss own engagement and after -- nato's own engagement in afghanistan. despite sacrifice over two decades, the collapse was swift and sudden. there are many lessons to be learned. but we should also recognize the gains made. nato allies and partners went into afghanistan after 9/11 to prevent the country from serving as a safe haven for
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international terrorists. in the last two decades, there have been no terrorists ♪ attacks -- terrorist attacks organize from afghan soil. those now taking power have the responsibility to assure international terrorists do not regain a foothold. allies have the capabilities and the vigilance to address future threats from afghanistan. due to our military presence and the support of the international community, a new generation of men and women have grown up in a new afghanistan. able to get education, take part in the political process, run their own businesses and enjoy vibrant -- today's afghanistan is very different than that of 2001.
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those gains cannot be easily reversed. the world will be watching and must continue to support a stable and peaceful afghanistan. with that, i am ready to take questions. >> the first question, we go to associated press. >> yes, secretary-general i hope you can hear me. you mentioned your own surprise at the speed of the collapse of afghan security forces. can you tell us how much did that training effort cost over 18 years? why should european and american taxpayers allow their money to be spent on training other countries when this happened after several years of nato effort in afghanistan? can you guarantee there will be some kind of study to learn the lessons of the failure we have seen here? >> there are lessons to be
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learned. of course, when we have been there for 20 years and invested billions of euros and dollars and sacrificed the life of our own soldiers, of course we need to examine, to look into those lessons because we need to continue to fight international terrorism. we also know that sometimes nato has to deploy combat troops in big combat operations, as we did after 9/11 in afghanistan and have done elsewhere. but in the long run, we believe it is better to build local capacity, to train local forces as we have done in the balkans, as we do in iraq, and as we did in afghanistan. the big question we have to ask in a clear eyed way is why didn't the forces we trained and
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supported over so many years, why were not able to stand up against the taliban? we were always aware of the risks that the taliban could regain control. that was stated clearly when we made the decision to end military presence, but it was a surprise the speed of the collapse and how swiftly it happened. so, international terrorism remains a challenge. therefore, nathan -- nato needs to stay vigilant, to stay at the forefront of the fight of international terrorism, but there are lessons that need to be learned and we will do that. the main focus today is to get people out of afghanistan come out from the airport, and then we will examine the lessons
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learned after the immigration has been finalized. >> brussels morning. >> thank you very much. i would like to ask especially about nato in afghanistan. nato is not only u.s.. -- not only u.s. don't you think the decision you took was wrong? how do you respond from that? how many more foreign policy will be followed before our work will be implemented and planned? when we saw this aggression, as an afghan woman, you see this situation is -- and there's thousands of -- who don't know
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for the future what is going on and what should happen for them. they are always asking, what does it mean 20 years, nato with all the international communities, and then we are going back again 20 years after we were on that place? i would like to ask how that's possible, the u.s. and eu, with the top of civilization have beaten nazi-ism, fascism, imperialism, but after the second world war, nato and the european union with all of this big intelligence and they are not ever to defend for the only a group of taliban and then you are doing everything again for those 20 years after. how do you see the future? i would like to ask, as a woman,
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please, don't recognize the islamic taliban without any conditions like the agreement which is signed between the taliban and the government of trump please don't recognize the taliban. thank you very much. >> it was extremely difficult to make the decision to end military presence in afghanistan. it was difficult because i share your pain, i understand your frustration. i was primitive serve norway in 2001 when we decided to send the troops for the first time to afghanistan. now i am responsible for our presence there in the end of the mission.
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i have been many times to afghanistan and met a lot of women. with a strong voice. i have seen the social and economic progress you have been able to make over these years. therefore, we will continue to support, to watch and hold the new rulers accountable for fundamental human rights including the rights of women. it is a tragedy, what we now see taking place in afghanistan. at the same time, there have been gains and we all need to make efforts to try to preserve those gains, including the fact that generations of men and women -- but in particular
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women, are now educated and taking part in political processes. it will not be easy for new rulers to take away all of those gains. so, i understand the anger, but i also have the responsibility to convey the message that the plan was never to stay in afghanistan forever. the plan was to build an afghan security force to take responsibility for the future of afghanistan. and the tragedy was that after 20 years, we saw a very sudden collapse of afghan leadership politically invalid terribly that led to the advances of the taliban. >> mustafa from radio free europe. >> thank you very much mr.
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secretary general. which nato countries specifically are involved in the evacuation efforts of afghans who are at risk? issues aside, what are they planning to do to get those afghans out? my second question, what is your message to the taliban now that they are in control of kabul? >> nato's main focus is to get people out. of course our own staff, but critical staff at the airport to be able to run the airport. air traffic control, fuel, and so on. to get staff out, staff from
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nato allied countries, but also afghans who supported nato and nato allies over all of these years. we are working hard on that, 24/7. we have seen some dramatic stuff, but also some locally employed afghans have been evacuated out of afghanistan. we are working to speed that up to get more planes in and out with people leaving. then, some nato allies have also stated that they will not only focus on and provide support to those afghans who have worked for us over all of these years, but other afghans who are vulnerable were in a difficult position. we have seen public announcements by several nato allies, but the precondition for getting also these other afghans
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out is of course to have the airport up and running and we have no many nato allies helping to ensure exactly that. we have the united states, they are deploying more troops. we have turkey, who has been there for many years. we have norway running the hospital at the airport. the united kingdom and other allies are helping and supporting. during the meeting of the north atlantic council today, several allies announced they are sending airplanes to the region to be able to build a bridge to get people out. so, there is a huge effort by many allies to keep the airport open and to help evacuate and several allies also announced they are ready to provide resettlement of other vulnerable
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afghans. >> for the next question, we go to politico. >> thank you. i want to ask you about the scale and scope of current operations, but you mentioned the fact this was all allies making the decision to follow the u.s.. normally when you talk about a tragedy, something like a natural disaster, this is a consequence of a clear policy decision. i wonder if you view this as an american failure, the decision to pull out and the inability to predict how quickly the country would collapse, or do you view this as a failure of all allies, and for you personally insisting on a condition list based withdrawal, which is what you talked about for quite a long time before joe biden took office, then revisited donald trump's agreement.
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>> this is first and foremost a tragedy for the afghan people. who have seen gradual progress towards democracy and freedom over decades. they've made anonymous and social economic progress. it is a tragedy for them. of course also for nato personnel, servicemen and women who have served in afghanistan and paid a high price over many years. for many years, we had conditions based presence. in february of last year, the united states signed an agreement with the taliban and agreed to end the military presence by may. allies welcomed that agreement,
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and after extensive consultations with a new biden administration this winter, all allies agreed that the time had come to end the military presence, the nato presence in afghanistan, knowing the risks. knowing that there was a possibility that the taliban would regain control. but, allies took that risk with open and clear eye's because they knew the alternative was not to continue with limited military presence. the alternative was to continue with an increased presence of nato troops and forces and to once again engage in combat because since the negotiations, the deal was signed, u.s. troops were not attacked by taliban. we could not anticipate that would continue.
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the alternative was either more fighting, more troops, more combat, an open ended military presence, or to leave, and then hope the investments we made in afghan security forces, not only nato but the whole international community with development and reform programs, all of that from the european union, nato, the u.n., many countries all over the world that that would prove a sustainable and viable, meaning that afghan government, state structure, security forces were able to withstand the pressure from the taliban. that didn't happen. we saw the risks, we anticipated the challenges, but no one anticipated the speed of the collapse of the afghan security
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forces, government and state structures. >> was a door choice then to turn the country over to the taliban rather than risk the continued endless fighting? >> the choice was to choose between two difficult alternatives with risks and downsides connected to both. either, as we stated when we made the decision, the risk of the taliban returning, or the risk of more decades, many more years in afghanistan trying to build an afghan state. this was not fair not only for nato, but the whole --. the frustration is easy to understand when we see so many years of efforts by the whole international community have proven so -- has not given better results when it comes to the strength of the afghan state
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structures. at the same time, some of the gains will be hard to reverse. the fact that millions of young girls and boys have got education is an achievement that is lasting. the fact that we have more independent, stronger political voices now, are gains that are not easily reversed. it is our responsibility, all of us, to do whatever we can to support the afghans and trying to maintain those gains. but, there is no doubt that this was difficult. it was a difficult decision between difficult alternatives. we have seen the consequences of a difficult decision made by 30 allies together when it decided to end the mission. >> terry schultz, npr.
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>> thank you. you and i have spoken many times over the last years about the situation. you just heard from layla, but i am also talking to people there about the journalists, some of the women journalists there are hiding in their houses and they can't go out. how did this suddenly not become a priority? having some education is not going to save them now. how does nato plan to continue supporting something you have said consistently, nato will support civilians? what can you do. i don't understand how this planning for all contingencies you mentioned will play out now. thank you. >> the most important and immediate thing we are doing is to keep the airport open to help people evacuate, to leave
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afghanistan. we sent a clear message to the new rulers that they need to allow people to leave and we are helping people to leave. of course, not only our own staff, but afghans who have worked for us and several allies have stated very clear there are willing to support and provide asylum to other afghans who are in an exposed and dangerous position. to be able to get these people out, we need the airport up and running and that is exactly what we have been working on 24/7 for several days. with nato allies, nato staff, working at the airport, providing critical services, and then we are also trying to help people to get to the airport and to get them out. so a precondition for any support, or at least help people
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outcome is that we are successful in the big task which is now to make sure -- that we have a functional -- and we will see that operation, the flights in that doubt from the airport are gradually resuming as we speak. >> do you mean in the long term you are keeping the airport open, or for a few days until you get your own people out? as i understand it's just evacuation flights for those people nato allies are helping to get out. you don't plan on long-term maintenance of the airport? >> i will not speculate how long, but we will try to evacuate as many as possible. we have stated clearly again and again that all of those who want to leave should be allowed to leave by air or land at open
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border crossings. they are not open now, but we will look forward to an opening of borders. >> next question is -- >> two questions, the first one, what will happen to the afghan national army trust fund nato had committed to continue funding for the afghan army until 2024? will these payments now be frozen or stop? have you discussed that? what is your recommendation? the second question, in past days the u.k. defense minister said in a number of interviews that he had -- a stabilization force could be -- could remain
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in afghanistan even without u.s. involvement. have you been involved in these consultations? do you think at any point it could have been possible to stay in afghanistan without u.s. troops? thank you. >> first, we have of course suspended all support, financial and other support to the afghan government because there is no afghan government for nato to support. all of that is frozen. we will come back to how we will then -- the afghan trust fund. but, no money is transferred. no support is provided to couple -- kabul after the collapse of the government. i have seen reports about attempts to try to establish a coalition of the willing to
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replace nato and the u.s. presence in afghanistan. i have not read that in the newspapers. i have not been part of any consultations other than that. i think it reflects the reality that when the united states decided to end its presence in of kenneth stan, and of course the united states has been responsible for the majority of the soldiers and has carried the road to the burden all the way -- carried the brunt of the burden all the way, allies like canada, all the partner nations to replace or fill in after the united states. so, that's also reflected in the fact that after an extensive consultation, several
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administrative meetings, made -- many meetings at the ambassador level in february and march and april, we decided together, 30 allies that we would end the mission. we have said many times we went into afghanistan together -- [no audio] adjusted our presence together and that yeah, we are part of that decision. >> the next question will go to nrk. >> good afternoon. does nader -- native consider it probable that groups like al qaeda returned to afghanistan in full force? what kind of assurances has the alliance got from the taliban
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that this will not be the case? >> the agreement the united states made with the taliban last february was an agreement that the united states agreed to end its military presence in afghanistan and nato allies agreed to that and followed the u.s. decision. at the same time, the taliban agreed to make sure that afghanistan not once again becomes platform for international terrorists to organize terrorist attacks against nato allied countries. we expect the taliban to live up to those commitments. we also will follow and watch that very closely. nato allies will remain vigilant and maintain the capabilities to strike terrorist groups from a
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distance if we see that terrorist groups again are trying to establish themselves and plan attacks against nato allies. we have seen that and nato allies have those capabilities and they are also available to be used in afghanistan if needed , a strike against terrorist groups from a distance. we see a strategy -- tragedy unfolding. we see the sadness. and the pain that afghans suffered. one of the achievements we have made over these 20 years is that we have been able to really fight and destroy terrorist groups in afghanistan. al qaeda is hardly existing,
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much weaker today than it was when we started our operation. therefore, the main purpose of nato going to afghanistan was to make sure that the country was not a platform for international terrorists and the nato presence together with partnering countries has been extremely important in achieving that. >> marcus price, ift. >> thank you very much. any european leaders are worried that the events in afghanistan might lead to a new flow well refugees. -- flow of refugees. do you think the u.s. has a moral obligation to accommodate refugees on their own soil, or is it only a problem for europeans? >> all allies, including
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european allies, we all made the decision together. knowing that there were risks and knowing that without the united states, there was no willingness from other allies to fill in and replace united states' capabilities in our mission in afghanistan. i understand that also because the nato mission in afghanistan was triggered by an attack on the united states. partly because the united states has all these capabilities and partly because the whole operation was triggered by an attack on the united states. when the united states dissented to end its presence, it was -- for allies to do the same. we will continue to work for a stable afghanistan for many reasons. but also to prevent a flow of refugees from again stan -- from
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afghanistan to europe and other countries. the united states has stated they are ready to take and receive and resettle afghans who have worked for them over these years. we all need to make an effort to prevent a new flow of migrants coming from afghanistan. >> than expression we go to -- >> thanks. i would like to take you back to the nato summit in june where there was a clear commitment combined to the withdrawal of forces to stand with the afghan people. [indiscernible]
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not at least to safeguard the human rights for particularly women, children and minorities. is it possible in the situation to stand firm on this promise, and how will you see the future of commitments that the leaders gave? >> the situation in afghanistan is evolving. therefore it is hard to predict exactly what kind of situation and government we will have in afghanistan in the future. there are efforts to establish some kind of inclusive government, many international actors have called for that. if that happens, it would be easy to have some kind of relationship compared to if we have a taliban, the role of which is similar to something we saw 20 years ago. i think the important thing is to try to convey a clear message
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that we need a peaceful transition of power and we need an inclusive government in afghanistan respecting for the -- human rights. nato has ended its military presence, but the international community can, and also nato can continue to play a role in developing aid for different organizations that are playing an important role. there will hopefully be able to continue to play that role. to provide humanitarian aid, development aid and protect and support human rights. the military presence was and is important, but the broader efforts of the international community, they may continue depending on the developments in
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afghanistan. the message from the nato summits from the nato leaders was that we should learn to use all of these tools to try to continue to support a peaceful development in afghanistan. i am certain that nato allies and the international community is ready to do so. >> final question, -- defense. [no audio] >> makes, we can't hear you. -- nick, we can't hear you. >> thank you. you can hear me now? >> yes. >> my question is what your
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response is to what some commentators are saying that the nato remains a strong alliance. we have to remember the reason we went into afghanistan was to fight international terrorism and degraded al qaeda. we have degraded al qaeda throughout our mission in afghanistan. it --that is also the reason why allies have made it clear we are not going to stay in afghanistan forever. that is the reason why we gradually reduce our presence back in 2014 and ended our combat mission and that is why we decided to end our military presence in afghanistan. to degrade al qaeda and fight international terrorism was the main purpose and al qaeda has been degraded, not least due to
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nato's presence in afghanistan over all these years. charter is connecting us. announcer: charter communications supports c-span as a public service, along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. ♪ announcer: white house press secretary jen psaki and national security advisor jake sullivan held a briefing to answer questions on the situation in afghanistan and the decision to withdraw u.s. troops from the country. the briefing is just over an hour. >>


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