Washington: US President Barack Obama and NATO chief on Friday said that they are planning a summit next year to put the final touches on the end of combat operations in war-torn Afghanistan.
"What we agreed to is that in order for us to facilitate this entire process, it would be appropriate for us to have another NATO summit next year," Obama said in a joint press availability with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House following the meeting between them.
The US-led forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
"We are now looking, over the next several weeks, to a new milestone, one that was set in Chicago, where we are transitioning to Afghan lead for combat operations in Afghanistan, and NATO members and ISAF members will be shipping into a train, assist and advise mode," Obama said.
"We`ve seen great progress of the Afghan national security forces; we want to continue that progress," he said.
"Our goal is in sight," Rasmussen said. "Soon we will reach an important milestone, and the Afghans will take the lead for security across the country. Our troops will move into a support role."
He said that by the end of 2014, "our combat mission will be completed, our combat troops will return home. The Afghan security forces will take full responsibility for the security, but we will still be there to train, advise and assist."
"To that end, we are now preparing a training mission to be established from 2015. It will be a very different mission - a noncombat mission with a significantly lower number of troops and trainers," he said, adding NATO is determinedly moving towards its goal of an Afghanistan that can stand on its own feet.
Obama said they also discussed the steps that need to be taken post 2014.
"We had an opportunity to discuss not only the planning for the next year and a half but also what kinds of steps we could take post-2014 to continue to ensure that Afghan security forces are effective and can control their own borders and that NATO members can be assured that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for terrorism in the future," he said.