BERLIN (Reuters) – Peace talks for Afghanistan have not made sufficient progress to allow the withdrawal of foreign troops, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Wednesday ahead of a virtual meeting with his NATO counterparts.
The Afghan government and Taliban militants started peace talks in Doha last September, but negotiations have largely stalled.
NATO defense ministers will discuss on Thursday whether the Taliban make a separate 2020 peace deal with the United States, which calls on militants to curb attacks and foreign forces to withdraw by May 1.
Washington is currently reviewing this agreement.
“This (lack of progress on peace talks) means we must prepare for a changing security situation and an increasing threat to international forces and our own troops,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.
Germany has contributed around 1,100 troops to the NATO mission, totaling 9,600, training and assisting Afghan troops. The mission also includes about 2,500 US military personnel.
Many fear that the progress of two decades of foreign intervention in Afghanistan could quickly unravel if NATO troops withdraw, threatening gains in areas from women’s rights to democracy.
In his statement, Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said on Monday that the Taliban must do more to meet the terms of the 2020 peace agreement with the United States.
Attacks in Afghanistan, including the bomb that killed the deputy governor of the capital Kabul in December, have prompted members of the US Congress and international rights groups to call for a postponement of the withdrawal agreed to under former President Donald Trump.
Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Edited by Madeline Chambers and Gareth Jones