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tv   NATO Secretary General Holds Briefing on Afghanistan  CSPAN  August 17, 2021 4:02pm-4:47pm EDT

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new on that since the statement of last night? >> that restricts competition for property wrongfully confiscated during poland's commonest air. -- communist your. the alliance we have with poland, the alliance we share with poland and other nato allies is based on mutual commitment to democratic values and prosperity. with that in mind, the secretary and broader department have urged the government to deal with these very shared principles and to make good on that. to make good on that.
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thank you all very much. >> if you have something on bahrain, can someone give it to me? >> yes. >> the nato secretary-general talked about the situation in afghanistan. from earlier today in brussels, this is about 40 minutes. question afternoon, the north atlantic council
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by what i see unfolding in afghanistan. 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. let me also think military forces of nato allies. in particular, turkey, the united states and united kingdom for the vital role in securing the airport. operations at the airport are readily resuming.
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during today's meeting, allies announced they are sending additional airplanes. we also maintained our diplomatic presence. they have been working closely with allies and the rest of the international community to chordate and facilitate the evacuation. we remain committed to completing evacuations including our afghan colleagues as soon as possible. the taliban must respect and facilitate the safe departure of all of those who wish to leave. the airport as well as roads and border crossings must be open. all afghan men, women and children deserve to live in safety and dignity. there must be a peaceful transfer of power to an
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inclusive government with no revenge or retribution. a government that does not respect the rights of all afghans and reinstates the 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. 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.
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we never intended to stay in afghanistan forever. over the past few years, over 100,000 troops went down to less than 10,000 and now to zero. what we have seen in the last few weeks was a military and political collapse at a speed which had not been anticipated. part of the afghan security forces fought bravely but they were unable to secure the country. 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
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have an honest, clear eyed assessment of nato's involvement in afghanistan. despite our considerable investment and sacrifice over two decades, the collapse was swift and sudden. there are many lessons to be learned. but we should also recognize the gains we have made. nato allies and partners went into afghanistan after 9/11 to prevent the country from serving as a safe haven. over the last two decades, there have been no terrorist attacks on allied soil organized from afghanistan. those now taking power have the responsibility to ensure that international terrorists do not regain a foothold.
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allies have the capabilities to address teacher terrorist 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 a vibrant media scene. today's afghanistan is very different to the afghanistan of 2001. those gains cannot be easily reversed. the world will be watching and must continue to support and sustain a piece left and stand. with that, i am ready to take questions. >> for the first question, we will go to the associated press.
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>> secretary-general, i hope you can hear me well. you mentioned your own surprise at the speed of the collapse of the afghan security forces. i am wondering if you can tell me how much that training costed over 10 years. why should americans and europeans allowed their money to be spent on training there. can you tell me whether there will be a inquiry to learn lessons about what we have seen here? >> we have invested billions of u.s. dollars and also sacrifice the life of our own soldiers. of course, we need to examine those lessons because we need to continue to fight international terrorism. we also know that sometimes nato
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has to deploy combat troops in big combat operations as we did after 9/11 in afghanistan and some elsewhere. in the long run, we believe it will train local forces. as we have done in the balkans, as we do in iraq and also as we have done in afghanistan. the big question we have to ask is why didn't the forces we trained and equipped and supported over 70 years -- why were they not able to stand up against taliban and a stronger and better way than they did? we were always aware of the risks that the taliban could regain control. that was stated clearly when we made the decision to end our military presence.
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it was a surprise speed of the collapse and how swiftly that happened. international terrorism remains a challenge many places in the world. nato needs to stay vigilant, to stay at the forefront of the foot against international terrorism. there are lessons that need to be learned from afghanistan. we will do that but the main focus today is to get people out of afghanistan, out from the airport and then we will draw the lessons and examine the lessons learned after it has been finalized. >> thank you very much, secretary-general for your statement. i would like to ask about nato rule in afghanistan.
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nato is not only u.s.. don't you think the decision that you or nato took, it was wrong? how do you respond to that? when we saw the situation -- as an afghan woman, you see the situation -- there are thousands of women who don't know what is going on and what will happen to them. they always ask what it means in 20 years. nato and international communities. we are going back 20 years after we were in that place. i would like to ask how that is
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possible. the u.s. and the eu with their work of fascism and imperialism. after the second world war, the nato -- nato and the european union with all this vague intelligence. they are never able to defend it. how do you see the future? i would like to ask as a woman, please don't recognize the emirate islamic taliban without any conditions. please don't recognize the taliban and put us in the same situation, thank you very much.
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>> it was extremely difficult to make the decision to and the nato military presence in afghanistan. i share your pain, i understand your frustration. i was the prime minister in norway back in 2001 when we started -- decided to send the troops for the first time to afghanistan. all these years, i have been in afghanistan and met people, a lot of women. strong leaders with a strong voice. i have seen the social and economic progress you have been able to make in afghanistan over these years. therefore, we will continue to support, we will continue to watch and we will continue to
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hold the new rulers accountable for living up to the fundamental human rights. of course, the rights of women. it is a tragedy, what we see taking place in afghanistan. at the same time, there has been gains and we all need to make all efforts to try to preserve those gains, including the fact that generations of men and women but in particular, women are now educated, they are now taking part in political processes. it will not be easy for them to take away all of those gains. i understand the anger but i also have the responsibility to
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convey the message that the plant to stay in afghanistan forever was not the plan. it was to build the afghan security force. the tragedy was that after 20 years, we saw the sudden collapse of afghan leadership politically and militarily. that led to the advances of the taliban. >> thank you very much. which nato countries are specifically involved in the evacuation efforts of afghans? what are they planning to do to
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get those afghans out? my second question is what is your message to the taliban now that they are in control of k abul? thank you very much. >> nato's main focus is to get the people out. our own staff, we retain some critical staff to be able to run the airport. to get our own staff out, to get staff from the nato allied countries out, people who worked for nato but those afghans who have worked and supported nato and nato allies over all these years. we are working hard on that 24/7. we have seen some dramatic stuff but some locally employed afghans have been evacuated out of afghanistan.
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we are working to speed that up to get more planes in and more planes out with people leaving. and then some allies have stated they will not only focus on and provide support to those afghans who have worked for us all these years but also, other afghans who are vulnerable or in a difficult position. we have seen public announcements by several nato allies. the precondition for getting these other afghans out is to have the airport up and running. we have many nato allies helping to ensure exactly that. we have the united states, they are deploying more troops. we have turkey which have -- has been at the airport for many
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years. we have the united kingdom and also allies doing the meeting of the council today. several allies have said they are sending airplanes into the region to build the air bridge to get people out. this is a huge effort by many allies to keep the airport open and to help to evacuate. several allies also announced they are ready to support and provide resettlement of vulnerable africans. -- afghans. >> thank you, thank you. i want to thank you about the scale of the current operations. you mentioned the fact that this was all allies making the decision to follow the u.s.. i wonder when you normally talk
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about a tragedy, it is something like a natural disaster, something that could been -- could not be prevented. i wondered if you view this as an american failure or -- the decision to pull out and how quickly the country would collapse politically. do you view this as a failure of all allies? are you insisting on a conditions-based withdrawal? that is what you talked about for quite a long time before joe biden took office and revisited donald trump's agreement and decision. >> this is first and foremost a tragedy for the afghan people. they have made enormous social and economic progress. it is a tragedy for them.
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for nato personnel, serviceman, women who have served in afghanistan and paid a high price over many years. for many years we had a conditions-based presence. in february of last year, the united states signed an agreement with taliban. they agreed to end the military presence by may. the allies will come to that agreement. after extensive consultations within the new biden administration this spring and winter, all allies agreed that the time had come to and the military presence, the nato presence in afghanistan. knowing that there were risks. knowing there was a possibility that the taliban was going to regain control of the country.
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but allies took at risk with open eyes, clear eyed because they knew the alternative was not to continue with a limited military presence. the alternative was most likely 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, nato troops and u.s. troops were not attacked by taliban. we could not anticipate that would continue. the alternative was either more fighting, more troops, more combat and open ended nato military presence or to leave and then of course, hope that all the investments we had made in the afghan security forces, not only nato but the whole international community with element eight and reform
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programs, that all of that from the european union, from nato, the u.n., many countries all over the world, that would prove sustainable and viable. meaning that the afghan government and security forces were able to withstand the pressure from the taliban. that did not happen. we saw the risks, we anticipated the challenges but no one anticipated the speed of the collapse of the afghan security forces, the afghan government and afghan state structures. >> the choice was to turn the country over to the taliban rather than risk in this fighting. >> the choice was to choose between two very different alternatives. either as we stated when the decision was made, the risk of
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taliban returning or the risk of more decades, many more years in afghanistan, trying to build and afghan state, afghan security forces. not only by nato but the whole international community. the frustration is easy to understand when we see that so many years of efforts by the whole international community has not given that her and strong results when it comes to the strength of the afghan state 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 stronger political voices in afghanistan now are gains that are not
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easily reversed. it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to support the afghans and try to maintain those gains. there is no doubt that this was difficult. it was a difficult decision between difficult alternatives and we have seen the consequences of a difficult decision made by 30 allies together. >> now we will go to terry schultz from npr. >> thank you. you and i have spoken many times over the last year about the situation of girls. we just heard from layla. i am also talking to people about some of the women journalists and powered their. they are hiding in their houses and cannot go out.
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how did this suddenly not become a priority anymore? how does nato plan to continue supporting this? something that you said nato will continue supporting, civilians, what can you do? where are you sending money? i don't understand how this planning for all contingencies you mentioned will play out. thank you. >> the most important and a immediate thing we are doing is to keep the airport open. to help people evacuate and leave afghanistan. we sent a clear message to the new rulers that they need to allow people to leave. we are helping people to leave. of course not only our own staff but the afghans who have worked for us and several allies have stated very clearly that they will support and provide asylum to other afghans who are in an
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exposed and dangerous position. to be able to get these people out, we need this airport up and running. we have nato staff working at the airport, running critical services. we also try to help people to get to the airport and get them out. a precondition for any support to help people out is they are successful in the big task that it is now, to make sure we have a functional airport and operational airport. i welcome the fact that allies have clearly stated today, that they are sending in more planes and that we see operations of
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the flights in and out of the airport are presuming as we speak. >> do you mean in a long-term you are keeping the airport open over a few days? as i understand it, it is just for a few days for evacuation flights. you don't plan on any long-term maintenance of the airport do you? i want to speculate about exactly how long but we will try to evacuate as many people as possible and we have stated clearly again and again that all those who want to leave should be allowed to leave by airplanes or by land or open border crossings. we will continue to work for the opening of the border crossings. >> the next question will be from thomas. >> secretary-general, two questions. the first one, what will happen to the afghan national army
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trust fund? nato had can -- committed to continue funding this for the afghan army until 2024. will these payments be unfrozen or stopped? have you discussed of that? what is your recommendation? the second question in the past days, ben wallace has said in a number of interviews that he had concerted with allies whether it stabilizes -- whether a stabilization force could remain 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? >> we have suspended all support
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, financial and other kinds of support to the afghan government. all of that is frozen and suspended. we will come back to how we will then -- that is something we can solve later but no money is transferred, no support is provided to kabul after the collapse of the government. i have seen reports about attempts to establish a coalition of the willing to replace nato and the u.s. presence in afghanistan. i have not read that in the newspapers or been part of any consultations but i think and reflect the reality that when the united states decided to end its presence in afghanistan, the
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united states has been responsible for the majority of the soldiers and it has bore the brunt of the burden along the way. there have been efforts from other allies to replace or fill in after the united states. that is also reflected in the fact that after an extensive consultation, many meetings at the ambassador level in february and march and april, we decided that we would end the mission. we have said many times that we went into afghanistan together, we adjusted our presence together and we left together. 30 allies agreed on this decision.
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that is also reflected in the fact that all the allies are part of that decision. >> the next question, we will go to nrk. >> good afternoon mr. secretary-general. does nato consider it probable that terrorist groups like al qaeda will return to afghanistan in full force after the taliban takeover? what kind of assurances has the alliance gotten from the taliban that this will not be the case? >> the agreement that the united states made with the taliban last year in february of 2020 was an agreement that the united states agreed to and its military presence in afghanistan and the nato allies agreed to
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that and follow the u.s. decision. at the same time, the taliban agreed to make sure that afghanistan does not become a platform international terrorists to organize planned 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. we have the capabilities to strike terrorist groups from a distance if we see terrorist groups trying to establish themselves and plan organize terrorist attacks. we have seen that nate allawi's -- nato allies have those capabilities. they have the ability to be used in afghanistan if needed.
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we see a tragedy unfolding. we see the sadness and the pain that afghans suffer but one of the achievements we have made over these 20 years is we have been able to really fight and destroy terrorist groups in afghanistan, al qaeda is hardly existing. it is much weaker today than it was when we started the military operation. therefore, the main purpose of nato going into afghanistan was to make sure that we -- that the country was not a platform for international terrorists. and that the nato presence -- it
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has been a stream important in achieving that. >> thank you very much. many european leaders are worried that the events in afghanistan may lead to a new flow of refugees. my question is in this case, do you think the u.s. has a moral obligation to accommodate refugees on their own soil? is it only a problem for europeans and turkey? thank you. >> all the allies, we all made the decision together knowing there were risks and also knowing that without the united states, there was no willingness from other allies to fill in and replace the united states capabilities in our mission in afghanistan. i understand that the nato
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kitchen -- mission in afghanistan was because of an attack on the net states. partly because the united states has all the capabilities and the operation -- when the u.s. decided to end its presence, it was natural for other nato allies to do the same to end their military presence in afghanistan. we will continue to work for a stable afghanistan for many reasons but also to prevent the flow of refugees from afghanistan to europe and other countries. the united clearly stated they are ready to take on and receive and resettle afghans who have worked for them over these years but we all need to make an effort to prevent a new flow of refugees and migrants coming from afghanistan. >> for the next question, we
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will go to mr. johnson. >> i want to take you back to the nato summit in june. there was a clear commitment to stand with the afghan people. not to mention what would rule in kabul. not at least to safeguard the human rights for women, children and minorities. is it possible in the situation to stand firm on this promise? how do you see the future of commitments that the leaders gave in june?
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>> the situation in afghanistan is evolving so it is hard to predict exactly what kind of situation and what kind of government will have in afghanistan in the future. there are efforts to try to establish some kind of inclusive government. many international actors have called for that. if that happens, it will be easier to have some kind of relationship compared to if we have a taliban similar to what we saw 20 years ago. i think the important thing is to try to convey a clear message that we need a peaceful transition of power, transfer of power, we need an inclusive government in afghanistan, respecting fundamental human rights. nato has ended its military presence. the international community and nato can continue to play a
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role, development aids, different nongovernmental is a sense, they are playing an important role in afghanistan. they will hopefully be able to continue to play that role. also to protect and support human rights. they may continue, depending a bit on the development in afghanistan and the message from the nato summit, the nato leaders was that we should relinquish all these tools, the development aid, the tools to try to continue to support a peaceful development in afghanistan and i am certain nato allies are ready to
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continue to do so. >> at think you can hear me now. my question was what your response is to what some commentators are saying, that the u.s. and nato defeat in afghanistan could undermine article five and more specifically, the u.s. commitment to europe. >> nato remains a strong alliance. we have to remember that the
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reason we went into afghanistan was to fight international terrorism and degrade al qaeda. we have done that through our military mission in afghanistan. that is also the reason why allies made it clear we are not going to stay in afghanistan forever. also why we decided to end our military presence in afghanistan. to degrade al qaeda and fight international terrorism, that was the main purpose. al qaeda has been degraded. >> thank you very much. this concludes this.
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>> represented michael mccaul discusses the withdrawal from afghanistan and the covid-19 origin during an event hosted by the washington post. live coverage begins at 5:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, online on or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> c-span's washington journal, everyday we are taking your calls live on the air. we will discuss policy issues that impact you. wednesday morning, we will discuss the issues of the war in afghanistan. we will talk about the biden administration's artist permanent increase to snap food benefits with heather taylor. watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 p.m.
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eastern on wednesday morning. be sure to discuss your questions with text messages and tweets. >> sunday, c-span's series, january 6, views from the house continues. two more members of congress share stories of what they heard, saw and experienced that day, including pennsylvania democrat susan wild. >> i don't remember how long we were in that situation between the time they barricaded the door and when we finally got out. it could have been two hours, it could have been five minutes. i had no sense of time whatsoever. i remember when i got off the phone with my kids, i felt as though my heart was pounding out of my chest and i felt -- i was actually worried i was having a heart attack.
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i have never had a heart attack but my father had heart attacks. we have family history so i was kind of worried about that. i must have put my hand up to my chest because that photograph of me taken -- that photograph of me that was taken, it has my hand on my chest. i remember being a little perplexed of that jason was reassuring me because i did not realize i was showing how upset i was. >> this week, you will also hear from massachusetts democrat jim mcgovern. january 6, views from the house. it was on c-span, and listen on the c-span radio app. courts c-span is your unfiltered
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view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more, including newco. midco supports c-span along with these other television providers. >> a conversation now with wesley morgan, journalist and author of the hardest place. why is the story an important want to tell? >> this is a place in northeastern afghanistan. it is one of the few places that operatives fanned out into in the and medially after 9/11. countert


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