NATO allies want a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and won’t recognize the Taliban if they take over by force, the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Friday.
After diplomats in NATO’s North Atlantic Council met to discuss Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said allies “are deeply concerned about the high levels of violence caused by the Taliban’s offensive, including attacks on civilians, targeted killings, and reports of other serious human rights abuses.”
“The Taliban need to understand that they will not be recognised by the international community if they take the country by force. We remain committed to supporting a political solution to the conflict,” he said in a statement.
Friday’s meeting came after the Taliban captured two more major cities in Afghanistan, Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west. Those gains, and the Taliban’s rapid progress across the country, have raised fears among residents that an assault on the capital, Kabul — home to the U.S.-backed government and foreign embassies — could be just days away.
The rout of Afghan government forces followed the decision by U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders to withdraw Western troops from the country.
In his statement, Stoltenberg said “our aim remains to support the Afghan government and security forces as much as possible.”
Western countries are also faced with the urgent question of how to protect their own nationals in Afghanistan.
Denmark and Norway said on Friday they are closing their embassies in Kabul for now because of the worsening security situation and evacuating their staff, according to Reuters.
Other countries, such as the U.S and the U.K, have said that will send troops to help evacuate staff from their embassies in Kabul. The Biden administration has said it will deploy 3,000 troops to Afghanistan in order to facilitate the drawdown of personnel. London has announced it will send about 600 troops to help British nationals to leave.
Stoltenberg said NATO “will maintain our diplomatic presence in Kabul, and continue to adjust as necessary,” while also stressing “the security of our personnel is paramount.”