France says NATO must step up to manage Afghan crisis

Military alliance must manage risk of terror resurgence, humanitarian needs, regional stability.

PARIS (AA) – NATO allies must contribute to the management of challenges evolving from the Afghan crisis, the French foreign minister said Friday.

Following a meeting between NATO foreign ministers to discuss the difficult situation in Afghanistan, Jean-Yves Le Drian in a series of tweets said the international alliance involving the US, Canada, and 28 European countries will have to help allies manage the consequences of a possible resurgence of terrorism, humanitarian crisis, and regional stability.

NATO allies joined the US military invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attacks and led the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force. At the peak of the conflict, there were more than 150,000 foreign troops under NATO.

Their numbers gradually declined and in May, NATO finally began a complete withdrawal. France’s military mission lasted from 2001 to 2014.

The primary and absolute urgency, Le Drian stressed, was evacuations of foreign nationals and Afghans in danger of the Taliban threat.

“Beyond the absolute urgency of evacuations, NATO will have to contribute to the management of the challenges of the Afghan crisis: risk of terrorist resurgence, humanitarian needs, regional stability,” he said.

In a telephone call with his US counterpart Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed on Thursday the absolute need to “ensure rapid and concrete coordination among allies on the ground, to allow the evacuation,” according to a statement from the Elysee.

Macron added that Afghans at risk cannot be abandoned and it was “the moral responsibility” as well as “collectively incumbent” to protect those who share democratic values.

The readout from the French president’s office said the leaders agreed to strengthen joint action “in humanitarian, political and counterterrorism matters in the coming days, in particular within the framework of the G7.”

Macron also followed up on the Afghanistan situation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and agreed to coordinate “closely bilaterally as well as within the United Nations Security Council, and within the framework of the G20,” said a separate statement from the Elysee.

At the NATO meeting, Le Drian pointed to the “chaotic conditions” that were obstructing the smooth evacuation and making it “very difficult” to access the Kabul airport.

The perimeter of the airport is manned at multiple checkpoints by Taliban forces deterring thousands of Afghans from leaving the country.

He demanded “strengthening of the coordination between allies present on the spot to facilitate and accelerate the evacuations.”

Several countries, including France, have moved core diplomatic teams to organize evacuations from the military section at the airport following the forceful seizure of the capital by the Taliban.

Since Monday, France has repatriated more than 570 people from Kabul to Paris, including over 300 Afghan nationals who were at risk.

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