NATO for a new role in Afghanistan after 2014
Washington: NATO chief said the organisation will have a new mission and role in Afghanistan after all the international forces withdraw from the war-torn country.
"Let me be clear: this will not be ISAF under a different name," the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told reporters at a Chicago news conference after a meeting of NATO-led ISAF countries.
"It will be a new mission, with a new role for NATO," he said. The decision was taken at the invitation of the Afghan Government," he said.
ISAF is made up of nearly 50 countries.
Besides leaders of these countries, the meeting was joined by the President Hamid Karzai from Afghanistan, Asif Ali Zardari from Pakistan, besides representatives from Russia, Japan, Pakistan, Central Asian states and key international community partners from the UN and the EU.
"Today, we reaffirmed our strong commitment to support the training, equipping, financing and capability development of Afghan forces in the years to come.
Allies and partners are playing their full part.
I welcome the financial commitments that some have made, including additional ones offers I heard today," Rasmussen said.
The NATO Chief said Afghan Forces will reach their full surge strength of 352,000 ahead of the scheduled deadline in October.
The decision to gradually reduce these forces to a sustainable level will be taken once the transition process is complete after 2014, he reiterated adding that this will be based on an assessment on the security situation and the capability of the Afghan forces and taken together with Afghanistan.
Leaders at the Chicago meeting, he told reporters also agreed on the next stage of NATO-ISAF engagement in Afghanistan.
Noting that the insurgency is under pressure as never before and the Afghan Security forces are growing in strength and confidence, he said they are taking an increasing lead for security and by the middle of 2013 will be providing the lead for security across the country, allowing ISAF forces to shift from leading combat operations to a more supporting role.
Rasmussen said there was broad agreement that the Afghan security forces are well on track to take full security responsibility across the country by the end of 2014.
"A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan will benefit the whole region and beyond. Many challenges remain, but we are determined to succeed. And based on today`s discussions, I am confident we will," Rasmussen said.
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