Huntsville: The leaders of the world`s eight most powerful developed nations on Saturday gave their backing to the West`s strategy in Afghanistan, just days after the general who drew up the strategy was sacked following a critical magazine article.
General Stanley McChrystal is seen as having galvanised the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with a strategy aimed at handing over security to Afghan forces. He was forced to step down in a bizarre scandal after music magazine Rolling Stone quoted him and aides as criticising the US political elite.
"We fully support the transition strategy adopted by ISAF contributors in April," the G8 leaders said in a joint statement.
US President Barack Obama insisted, as he accepted McChrystal`s resignation, that the two men were at odds over the article, not over any aspects of strategy. But the debacle provoked consternation in ISAF, which is currently preparing for major operations in Afghanistan.
The G8 statement also urged the Afghan government to improve its performance, "including measures to combat corruption, address illicit drug production and trafficking, improve human rights, (and) improve provision of basic services and governance".
Afghan soldiers should be able to begin taking over responsibility for the country`s security "within five years”, the statement said.
Six of the G8 members - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States - are NATO members. Japan and the European Union support civilian reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Russia, the last G8 member, has no troops in the country, but allows ISAF supplies to pass through its territory, thereby avoiding the dangerous land route through Pakistan.