In a virtual meeting of Foreign Ministers from the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US) together with Turkey, Qatar, and the European Union on Monday (30 August 2021), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the evacuation of over 100,000 people from Afghanistan was a historic operation executed under extreme duress. Thanking Allies and Qatar for their efforts, Mr Stoltenberg noted NATO’s role in coordinating evacuations and running Kabul airport operations, and emphasized the need to ensure safe passage for those who worked with NATO and those at risk who are still in Afghanistan.
Looking ahead, Mr Stoltenberg said that it was important that counterterrorism gains made in Afghanistan were preserved. He recalled that NATO’s mission was always to make sure that Afghanistan was not a safe haven for international terrorists. He noted that Al Qaeda has been degraded and there has not been a terrorist attack on NATO allies organized from Afghanistan since 9/11. Acknowledging that the terrorist threat could re-emerge, the Secretary General agreed with ministers that the Taliban must be held to account on their commitments on terrorism, adding that Allies must be prepared to continue to combat terrorist groups.