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tv   NATO Secretary General Holds Briefing on Afghanistan  CSPAN  August 21, 2021 6:02am-6:31am EDT

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♪ >> next, a press conference held by nato secretary-general on the situation in afghanistan. this is about 30 minutes.
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>> ministers discussed a >> this is our immediate priority. nato has worked to maintain operations at kabul international airport. the airport open. i pay tribute to them as they work in very difficult circumstances. i also thank our allies, in particular turkey, the united states, england in securing the
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airport. i think all the allies who have been willing to receive afghans at risk. we discussed our approach to those in power in kabul. we expect the taliban to uphold their commitments, that afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorism. we called for an end to violence around the country. over the years, nato's presence and the support of the international community have allowed afghans to make unprecedented social, economic, and political process -- progress.
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any government that attempts to undo this process -- third, we have agreed we would not allow terrorists to threaten us again. nato's engagement was a response to the attack on the united states on 9/11. our objective was to prevent terrorists from using afghanistan as a safe haven for further attacks on. no terrorist attacks on allied soil have been organized from afghanistan for the last two decades. these gains must be preserved for our own security. finally, there are hard questions we need to ask ourselves of our engagement in afghanistan. we were clear about the risks of withdrawing our troops, but the speed of the collapse of the afghan political and military
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leadership and armed forces was not anticipated. there are many lessons to be learned. i intend to conduct an assessment of nato's engagement in afghanistan. north america and europe must continue to stand together. the unfolding events in afghanistan do not change this. the shifting global balance of power, russia's aggressive actions and the rise of china make it even more important to keep a strong transatlantic bond. we all know the service of the hundreds of thousands of allies in the military and civilians who have served in afghanistan, and all the afghans who stood with us. with that i am ready to take your questions. >> we will go to tomas.
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>> thanks a lot. good evening. secretary-general, last sunday when kabul had fallen, u.s. foreign secretary blinken said the u.s. could deal with any afghan government that opposed the rights of people. that doesn't have -- rights of its people to doesn't have a terrorist. today's statement from nato foreign ministers goes way beyond that, including notably rule of law as a condition. how do you explain the difference? how would you sum up your message to the taliban rulers in kabul today? that is my first question. if i may add a second one, could you please explain in which -- the framework in which you plan to do this investigation? thank you. sec. gen. stoltenberg: first of all we discussed at the meeting today -- i raise the issue of
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thorough assessment in a lessons learned process. not only about the support mission but nato's total engagement in afghanistan over two decades. that started with a mission that turned into the support in 2014. we have been there for close to 20 years. we have invested a lot in afghanistan. i think we should have an honest and clear assessment of what went wrong and what we achieved. i will initiate that as soon as possible. exactly how that will be done, i will have to come back to that. it has brought support from allies for the assessment of the engagement to learn lessons and learn so we draw the right
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lessons from afghanistan. i have a humble approach. when we see the challenges, the crisis we are facing in afghanistan there are some serious lessons to be learned after two decades in afghanistan for nato. the message from all allies, the united states and what is reflected in the statement from foreign ministers today is the same. that the government, the rulers, the taliban in kabul and afghanistan, they need to live up to their international commitments. to not harbor support for
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international terrorist organizations like al qaeda and isis, to respect human rights, including the rights of women, and also to give free passage to people so they can leave the country. that also includes afghans. this has been expressed by allies, individual allies and today also in a joint statement by all nato allies coming from the meeting. >> for the next question we will go to paris. >> thank you very much. i wanted to ask whether you agreed with the statement that this was the greatest debacle in the history of nato. also whether you don't think what happened the last few days is a nail in a coffin of article five. allies can go to battle together, but once they don't withdraw together, nato has a problem. sec. gen. stoltenberg: this is a tragedy first and foremost for
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the people of afghanistan. we have been there for 20 years. we have deployed hundreds of thousands of nato troops. several thousand paid the ultimate price. hundreds of thousands of non-us allies have served alongside u.s. soldiers in afghanistan. more than 1000 paid the ultimate price. this has been a huge effort by this alliance. when the united states signed an agreement with the taliban in february of 2020, of course that -- then it was very difficult for european allies to continue to stay. as you alluded to, we went into afghanistan as a response to an attack on the united states. when the united states decided to end its military mission there with the agreement signed back in february of 2020, it was no viable practical options for the other allies, european
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allies in kandahar to remain without united states. nato remains a strong alliance. nato has implemented the biggest enforcement of our collective defense in europe since the end of the cold war. it was a clear message from the meeting today. whatever happens in afghanistan should not undermine our ability to protect nato allied countries, nato allied territories. >> the next question goes to reuters. >> mr. secretary-general, i want to ask whether you have any idea of how long you expect kabul airport to remain open and to continue evacuations. the second one, if i may, you think several states for cash thanked several states for
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assisting with security at kabul airport. amongst them turkey. could you elaborate on that one please? sec.-gen. stoltenberg: turkey has been responsible for the airport for several years. they continued to operate the airport. the big difference is because of the crisis and difficulty in immigration effort, especially the united states has deployed a large number of troops to the airport. all allies thanked today, those allies helping to operate the airport, in particular turkey, the united states, the united kingdom and others that have capabilities to run the airport. also, several hundred native -- nato -- civilian officials are helping to operate the
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airport in close cooperation with the united states and other nato allies. on the timeline, that was discussed during the meeting today. several allies raised the issue of extending the timeline to get more people out. the u.s. has stated the timeline ends on the 31st of august. several raised the need to extend that to get more people out. our focus is to get our own staff people -- people working for nato and nato allied countries, and also afghans. we are working hard to help the afghans. we have been able to get some out. we are working to get more
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afghans out of afghanistan. >> for the next question we go to geo tv news from pakistan. we cannot hear you. please go ahead. >> secretary-general, it seems pakistan is emerging as a -- do you support this building by pakistan?
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sec.-gen. stoltenberg: what is important now is whatever new government we getting kabul, this is an inclusive government. everything that can help to support such a process i think is helpful. when it comes to pakistan, i think pakistan has a special responsibility. it is a neighbor of afghanistan. partly because of the close relationship to the taliban. i think pakistan has a special possibility to make sure -- responsibility to make sure afghanistan lives up to its international commitments and afghanistan does not begin become a safe haven for -- does not once again become a safe haven for international terrorists. a stable afghanistan is in the
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interest of all countries, not least neighbors like pakistan. >> the next question goes to washington post. >> thank you. secretary-general, you warned the taliban, "they will not be recognized by the international community if they take the country by force." now that they have done that, what is nato's position on recognizing the taliban as the government of afghanistan? is recognition out of the question? is it instead conditioned on a set of criteria? does nato currently have a line of communication with the taliban? thank you. sec.-gen. stoltenberg: nato does not recognize states. nato allies can do that. it was stated in the meeting today that diplomatic recognition is something which
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has to be conditioned on how the new government behaves and to what extent they live up to their international commitments. the message is reflected in the statement agreed by foreign ministers today. that is about the need for afghanistan to live up to commitments. the commitment in the agreement with the united states signed in february of 2020, or last year, where they stated they should not support or provide safe haven for international terrorist groups like al qaeda or isis. that's a very obvious and important commitment because nato, our main task in afghanistan has to be to prevent the country from becoming a platform for launching terrorist attacks against our own countries. for 20 years we have prevented
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such attacks from afghanistan against nato allied countries. we need to preserve those gains. we discussed how we can preserve those gains, including by stating clearly to the new afghan rulers, the new government these are commitments we expect them to adhere to. it is relevant when it comes -- we expect them to live up to other commitments, including respect for human rights and the rights of women. some nato allies have not recognized the new government. partly because there is no new government to recognize. some allies, and i think it's important, they have operational tactical contact with the taliban. that is to ensure safe passage from the airport and someone.
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-- so on. we have to distinguish these tactical, operational contacts which i think is needed and important, and diplomatic recognition. that's two different things. >> the next is from brussels this morning. >> as you know, everyone is asking about the pakistan. my question is about what is next? how do you see the future without any government? and nato has a unified commitment for afghanistan to get out the people. who can make this together? some of the nato countries could not send any airplanes for
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bringing back the afghan people. how do you minutes is kind of thing, especially for the moment with a huge -- the people are arriving at the airport? i hope in this way it becomes -- if they want to leave afghanistan, they won't leave them. thank you very much. sec.-gen. stoltenberg: in the meeting we had today it was a timely and constructive meeting on nato foreign ministers. we addressed the urgent issue of immigration and long-term challenges, counterterrorism, a common political approach to the new rulers in kabul, and also how to conduct lessons learned and maintain the unity of the alliance.
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when it comes to the immediate and most urgent task of evacuation, i welcome the fact many allies today clearly made offers to host afghans. to receive them in their countries. so, there are many allies ready to receive either temporarily or also a permanent resettlement in nato countries. many allies sent down planes. the united states and other allies have planes in the region. many have been able to fly in and take out people from the airport.
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that is a very dire and difficult situation. some good news the allies are ready to receive. afghans are ready to send down planes and help evacuate. the big challenge is to get people on those planes. the limiting factor is not the lack of planes. the limiting factor is the ability to get people into the airport, processed and on the planes. that was thoroughly discussed in the meeting today raised by meeting allies. they need to work harder on how
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we can get more people who are now outside the airport into the airport, that process, and then on to the planes. we have more planes than we have people or passengers, because the process of getting people into and afghans into the airport process is the big challenge. i think that is one of the reasons this meeting was important. >> you had a follow-up question. >> for women activists, is there any guarantee they will be safe? >> nato allies are doing whatever they can to get as many people as possible out of afghanistan. we have been able to get thousands out.
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our nato allies in particular raised the issue of not only getting out those from our own nations and those who have worked with us, but other afghans. but again, we face the same challenge to get these people to the airport. that was one of the main issues discussed at the meeting today and we are working hard on making progress on getting afghans at risk to the airport. >> how many people from nato still have to be evacuated?
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>> we are discussing different sites for temporary staging, housing for afghans coming out of afghanistan, and several allies declared to resettle on a permanent basis. the challenge is to find allies willing to receive afghans on a temporary basis or a permanent basis. the challenge is to get them to the airport because we have countries ready to receive. we have planes. the challenge is to get them to the airport. that is one of the main issues we discussed at the meeting today. pinpointing or stating clearly,
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discussing how we can make progress on that issue is important because there is an urgent need to get more people to the airport. >> how many afghans still need to be evacuated and how many locations? >> nato has around 800 contractors and others who work for nato. that number has now been reduced to around i think 500 at the airport, and less than 200 of those are afghans. those were afghans who worked for nato or nato agencies. a lot of afghans worked for the
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united kingdom and other allies. that number is much bigger. i know we are doing whatever we can to help get these afghans out. >> last question. >> do you know the extent of nato financed arms now possibly controlled by the taliban and is nato working to destroy any weapons to ensure they are not getting into those hands? >> nato has ended its military operation in afghanistan. nato ended its military mission in afghanistan because we agreed
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to do so this spring. that was part of a u.s. agreement with the taliban in february of 2020, where we agreed to end the u.s. presence. different nato allies like norway, they have done whatever they can for several months now to get all their soldiers out and to take back as much equipment as possible. each ally will speak for their own equipment. some of it has been destroyed. and some of it is still in afghanistan.
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