Washington: The NATO Summit in Chicago would lay the road map of international support to Afghanistan in the coming years with the objective of not only achieving its political stability and economic development, but also to ensure that it will never be "safe haven" for terrorists.
"We will lay out how we will continue to support Afghanistan, and its people, beyond that date. We expect to have a new mission, to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces so they remain strong in the years to come," the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a Chicago audience on the eve of the crucial summit, which is attended by more than 60 countries.
"We will also play a full part in sustaining the Afghan forces. But there is an important role for other members of the international community too. Particularly in the areas of reconstruction and development, and also in helping the Afghan authorities to build the institutions that are necessary to run a country effectively and fairly," Rasmussen said in his address to the Youth Summit in Chicago.
Rasmussen said that over the next two days the participants will take stock of the progress they are making in Afghanistan.
"And we will set out our plans for the future. Our goal is to make sure that Afghanistan will never again be a safe haven for terrorists. Terrorists who used the sanctuary of that country to plan horrendous attacks such as those on 9/11," he said.
Noting that good progress is being made towards that goal, he said with the help of NATO and US forces Afghan forces are already in the lead for providing security for half the country`s population.
"They are growing more capable and confident day by day. I saw Afghan special forces training outside Kabul just a few weeks ago and I was truly impressed," he said.
Rasmussen said by next year they will reach a really significant milestone and Afghans will take lead for providing security throughout their country.
"This means that we will gradually shift our role from combat to support. And by the end of 2014, Afghans will be fully in charge of their own security. That is when our ISAF mission will come to an end," the NATO chief said.
"NATO will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan. So that we can help Afghanistan to offer a better future to all of its citizens and more security for all of ours. And we will underline that commitment at our Summit here in Chicago," Rasmussen said.