NATO Blames Afghan Politicians For Country's Situation: "Failed To Confront Taliban And Attain Peaceful Solution".

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday blamed Afghan leaders for the country's succumbing to the Taliban and for failing to achieve a peaceful solution.

"Some of the Afghan forces fought valiantly, but they were not able to keep the country safe because, in the end, the political leaders failed to stand up to the Taliban and achieve the peaceful solution that Afghans desperately wanted," Stoltenberg told a news conference.

"This failure of Afghan political leaders has led to the tragedy we are witnessing today," he added.

The Norwegian politician said he was "deeply saddened" by the situation in Afghanistan after 20 years of allied military presence there to combat international terrorism and to try to train Afghan security forces, and said the alliance faced a "serious dilemma".

"Either leave and risk seeing the Taliban regain control, or stay and risk renewed attacks and an open combat mission," he said.

Stoltenberg recalled that "it was never our intention to stay in Afghanistan forever," and that in recent years NATO went from having more than 100,000 troops in the Asian country to less than 10,000 "and, now, zero."

"But what we have seen in the last few weeks has been a military and political collapse at a speed that had not been anticipated," he summarized.

Stoltenberg also explained that NATO is now focused on ensuring the "safe departure" of personnel from allied and partner countries, as well as "the Afghans who have helped us."

Some 800 NATO civilian personnel remain in Afghanistan to ensure "key functions in a challenging environment," such as air traffic control, refueling, and communications, while military forces in particular from Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom play a "vital role" in providing security for Kabul airport.

He said NATO also maintains a diplomatic presence working closely with allies to coordinate and facilitate the evacuations, which he hoped would be completed "as soon as possible."

Stoltenberg called on the Taliban to "tolerate and respect the departure of those who wish to leave," and urged that airports and roads remain open.

He also called for a transfer of power to an "inclusive, non-retaliatory, non-punitive government that respects the human rights of all Afghans and does not reinstate the reign of terror."

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