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NATO chief warns against premature withdrawal from Afghanistan

November 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a stark warning Tuesday that any premature withdrawal from Afghanistan could be dangerous, a day after CNN and other outlets reported that President Donald Trump is eyeing a troop drawdown against the advice of the nation's top military officials.

Washington (CNN)NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a stark warning Tuesday that any premature withdrawal from Afghanistan could be dangerous, a day after CNN and other outlets reported that President Donald Trump is eyeing a troop drawdown against the advice of the nation's top military officials.

And ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq," Stoltenberg said in a statement to CNN.

CNN, citing two US officials familiar with the matter, reported on Monday that US military commanders are anticipating that a formal order will be given by Trump as soon as this week to begin a further withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20.

But then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sent a classified memo earlier this month to the White House asserting that it was the unanimous recommendation of the chain of command that the US not draw down its troop presence in Afghanistan any further until conditions were met, sources familiar with the memo tell CNN.

In his statement, Stoltenberg also noted that the NATO presence in Afghanistan was in support of the United States following the 9/11 attacks on the US.

"NATO went into Afghanistan after an attack on the United States to ensure that it would never again be a safe haven for international terrorists," he said.

The Pentagon has issued a notice to commanders known as a "warning order" to begin planning to drawdown the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 troops and 2,500 in Iraq by January 15, the officials said.

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