German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, during a surprise visit to troops in Mazar-i-Sharif, said Berlin is committed to peace process in Afghanistan.
Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer arrived at the Bundeswehr camp, where the majority of German troops are deployed, early on Friday in order to assess the situation in Afghanistan.
“We are ready to continue supporting the peace process,” the minister said.
On Wednesday, the German cabinet approved a 10-month extension in military mission there, a move that still has to be approved by parliament.
During her visit, Kramp-Karrenbauer said Afghanistan “urgently needs a settlement between the opposing groups of its society.”
Soldiers cannot replace these reconciliation processes, but they were “making an important contribution together with allies, especially in the north of the country,” she said.
“The goal remains an orderly withdrawal,” she said and added, “in view of the security situation, the protection of our servicemen and women is a very high priority in this regard, and all necessary measures will be taken together with our partners to this end.”
The current parliamentary mandate for the German operation with up to 1,300 troops expires at the end of March.
She warned that a premature withdrawal of NATO troops could jeopardise peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and said that the alliance troops should be prepared for Taliban violence if they stay beyond the May 1 deadline.
She will contribute findings from her unannounced Afghanistan visit to the parliamentary debate and ongoing talks within NATO.
PAKISTAN STANCE: Meanwhile, Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan urged Biden’s administration not to alter mutually agreed upon troop withdrawal timelines without consulting the Taliban.
Speaking to a gathering at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute think tank, he called on the US “to demonstrate urgency in concluding its reassessment of a February 2020 peace pact with the Taliban to enable the ensuing reconciliation talks between warring Afghans to move forward.”
Ambassador Mansoor said “the institutional review processes take time in the.”
He expressed the hope that the review will be completed soon so that peace could be restored as early as possible.
He said it is in everyone’s interest that the peace process completes at the earliest.
Ambassador Mansoor stressed that whatever US findings could be, it is their obligation to interact with the Taliban and address their concerns.