"We will not stay longer than necessary, but we will not leave before we have a situation, which enables to leave or reduce the number of troops without jeopardizing the main goal of our presence", Stoltenberg said at a meeting with US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Stoltenberg added that it is "too early to speculate" on the issue of withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, because now it is necessary to support efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
"We strongly support those efforts… We are in close contact with the United States… Our military presence, the purpose of that is to create the conditions for the political solution, and we hope that we will be able to achieve that", Stoltenberg noted.
In particular, Khalilzad told the New York Times that the two sides had reached an agreement in principle on a framework for a peace deal that would see foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan over a period of 18 months. The agreement is yet to be signed, and the dates of its implementation reportedly remain unclear.
In December, the US-based media reported that the Trump Administration had planned to withdraw around 7,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. The reports came in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement regarding his intention to pull US troops out of Syria since, according to him, the Daesh terrorists had been defeated. However, the White House has dismissed the claims about Afghanistan, saying that Trump had no such plans.
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The situation has been exacerbated by the activities of the Daesh** terrorist group, which has been reportedly operating in Afghanistan since 2015.
There are currently around 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, in addition to the around 16,000 servicemen from NATO and bloc's partner states.
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*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia.
**Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State/IS), a terrorist group banned in Russia and in a wide number of other countries.